SUBSCRIBE

Women renew their accusations against Trump

Monica Schipper/Getty Images

From left: Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, and Samantha Holvey listened to Lisa Boyne talk via speakerphone during a press conference in which the women accused President Trump of sexual harassment.

By Globe Staff 

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s history of alleged sexual misconduct reemerged Monday amid the national reckoning over inappropriate behavior, with several women who have previously accused him of forcible kissing, groping, and ogling stepping forward to renew their complaints.

The women, in media appearances Monday, urged Congress to investigate Trump’s behavior, hoping that the president will be held to account for accusations that flooded the news during his 2016 presidential campaign. The Republicans who control Congress have shown no interest in a public inquiry, however.

Advertisement

The president also faces a lawsuit in state court in New York that could become a forum for allegations against him.

The accusations resurfaced the day before Alabama voters consider whether to elect Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is now backed by Trump and who is accused of targeting and dating girls as young as 14 when he was in his early 30s.

During Trump’s campaign, more than a dozen women came forward to detail allegations of various forms of sexual assault over a period spanning many years, but he survived the graphic disclosures and was elected. The accusations mostly faded during his first year in office.

“I put myself out there for the entire world, and nobody cared,” said Samantha Holvey, a Miss USA contestant in 2006, told NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today” Monday, describing an incident when she said Trump walked into her dressing room and ogled her and other contestants.

“Let’s try round two. The environment is different,” Holvey added. “Let’s try again.”

Advertisement

The frenzy of disclosures of misconduct by political leaders, media figures, and business executives has renewed questions about Trump’s actions. Trump has also invited fresh scrutiny to his own behavior by scolding Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat, for allegedly kissing and groping a woman on a USO tour and by endorsing Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama’s special election Tuesday.

The allegations of inappropriate sexual advances against Trump range from unwanted kisses on the lips to his hand sliding up their skirts. The accusations date to the 1970s, but many of the reported incidents took place when he got involved in beauty pageants from the mid-1990s onward.

The Globe in 2016 detailed his early years running pageants, which resulted in accusations of him climbing into a woman’s bed uninvited, calling women “bimbos,” fondling a potential business partner under a restaurant table, and, on another occasion, forcibly propositioning the same woman for sex in his daughter Ivanka’s empty bedroom at Mar-a-Lago.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, during a contentious exchange in the briefing room on Monday, said that Trump denied all the allegations and that voters knew about them before the 2016 election.

“The president has addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations,” she said. “This took place long before he was elected president. The people of this country, in a decisive election, supported President Trump.”

But there are signs of divisions within Trump’s administration. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation’’ that Trump’s accusers deserved to be heard.

“I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,’’ Haley said.

When asked Monday to respond to Haley’s comment, Sanders responded, “He thinks it’s a good thing that women are coming forward. But he also feels strongly that a mere allegation should not determine the course.”

While many of the accusations against Trump are difficult to prove, some of his comments have been caught on tape. In the final weeks of the campaign, the Washington Post obtained a copy of him boasting about how his stardom allowed him to do whatever he wanted with women.

“Grab ’em by the p----y,” he said while filming a segment for “Access Hollywood.” “You can do anything.”

Trump also bragged to radio host Howard Stern in 2005 about how he did “inspections” of women during beauty pageants, how he was allowed to parade through dressing rooms as the only male because he owned the contest.

“I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone OK?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good,” he added.

The situation could become more complicated depending on the result of the Alabama election. If Moore wins, Senate Republican leaders have vowed to start an ethics investigation of Moore almost immediately. Trump’s past accusers contend that the president, too, should be investigated.

“Hold Mr. Trump to the same standard as Harvey Weinstein and the other men held to account for their reprehensible behavior,” said Rachel Crooks, one of the three women who spoke to the media Monday. Crooks alleges Trump forcibly kissed her on the lips during a 2005 encounter at Trump Tower, where she worked.

“If they were willing to investigate Senator Franken, it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” she added.

Four senators from the Democratic caucus — Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — are now calling on Trump to resign as a result of allegations made against him.

As long as Congress is controlled by Republicans, there is unlikely to be any investigation, but that doesn’t mean Democrats won’t make matters uncomfortable and use the issue in the runup to the midterm election.

The allegations outlined by the three women on Monday morning — during a joint interview with Megyn Kelly and then at a press conference later — contained little new information, but the women are testing whether the context has changed.

In addition to Crooks and Holvey, Jessica Leeds spoke about how Trump groped her on an airplane when they were both in first class in the late 1970s. After the meal was cleared, according to Leeds, Trump began kissing and groping her. His hand also went up her skirt, until she forced him away, she said.

“That was the last time I wore a skirt traveling,” Leeds said.

Another accuser, Summer Zervos, has a case that is currently before the New York State Supreme Court. Zervos has sued Trump for defamation over his repeated comments that she — and the other accusers — were liars.

Zervos, who was a contestant on “The Apprentice,” said that Trump kissed and groped her in 2007.

‘‘False stories,” Trump said in the weeks before the election. “All made up. Lies. Lies. No witnesses. No nothing. All big lies.’’

Trump’s lawyers have said that her lawsuit is “politically motivated” and have moved to have it dismissed by arguing that a sitting president cannot be sued in state court.

The women also reflected on how hurtful the results of the election was for them, giving them a sense that voters did not taking their claims seriously.

“We are private citizens,” Holvey said. “And for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”

Holvey recounted how she grew up dreaming of competing in Miss USA pageants.

“I have a new dream,” she said. “That this man will be held accountable for his actions.”


Matt Viser can be reached at matt.viser@globe.com
Follow him on Twitter @mviser.