WASHINGTON — Two more women on Friday accused Donald Trump of sexually harassing them, bringing to six the number who have recently accused the Republican presidential nominee of inappropriate sexual conduct.
At a rally in Greensboro, N.C., a defiant Trump repeated his previous assertions that the allegations are “phony” and “100 percent made up.”
“They are all false, totally invented fiction. Never met this person, these people. I don’t know who they are,” Trump said. “They get some free fame. It’s a total setup.”
At one point, he dismissed the allegations by suggesting the women would not have drawn his interest. He also seemed to assess Hillary Clinton’s appearance during the debate last Sunday. And he accused the media and Clinton’s campaign of conspiring against his candidacy by giving his accusers a platform so close to Election Day.
As Trump spoke Friday afternoon, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,’’ which Trump hosted, held a press conference in Los Angeles where she tearfully recounted a 2007 incident in which she said Trump groped her. Zervos said he kissed her on the mouth, touched her breast, and thrust his genitals at her during a meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel about a job.
The Washington Post reported Friday that Trump, in the early 1990s, allegedly reached under the miniskirt of a stranger seated on a couch next to him at a Manhattan nightclub and groped her through her underwear.
Trump at his rally Friday mocked the woman, waving his arms incredulously as his supporters laughed.
“I really don’t sit alone that much,” he said, joking about his popularity with women.
Trump has been confronted with a slew of allegations of sexual misconduct over the past week, starting with a Washington Post report of a 2005 tape featuring him bragging about forcibly kissing women and grabbing them by the genitals.
The women have said they were motivated to come forward about incidents that happened years ago after hearing Trump dismiss the 2005 tape as “locker room banter” during Sunday night’s debate and deny that he had ever acted upon his words.
For the second day in a row, Trump addressed the allegations on the campaign trail Friday.
He stoked even more attention by continually denying the claims and implying that his accusers were not to be believed because they were not attractive enough to warrant his attention.
“When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said I don’t think so!” Trump said Friday about a businesswoman who told The New York Times that Trump had groped her while seated next to her in first class on a flight more than 30 years ago. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. That would not be my first choice.”
On Thursday, Trump challenged his supporters at a West Palm Beach rally to “take a look” at the People magazine writer who recently wrote a first-person article describing Trump pushing her against a wall and “forcing his tongue down my throat’’ at his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2005.
“You tell me what you think. I don’t think so,” he said. Then on Friday, he repeated his criticisms of the same writer’s appearance by telling supporters to “check out her Facebook page. You’ll understand.”
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, on Friday morning reiterated Trump’s earlier promises that the campaign would soon reveal “evidence” to disprove the women’s claims.
“I know that there is more information that is going to be coming out that will back his claim that this is all categorically false,” Pence said on “CBS This Morning.”
Hours later on Friday evening, the campaign put forward a British man,who told the New York Post he was seated in first class across from the businesswoman and witnessed her flirting with Trump.
Zervos, the former “Apprentice” contestant, said she reached out to Trump about a job in 2007. He twice kissed her on the lips during their initial meeting in his New York office and subsequently invited her to meet again in a Beverly Hills hotel, where his advances grew more aggressive as she pushed him away, she said.
In addition to kissing her open mouthed and placing his hand on her breast, she said, he led her into a bedroom and embraced her, instructing her to lay down on the bed to watch television.
“You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” Zervos said during the press conference.
Zervos said Friday that she e-mailed Trump via his assistant in April to say she was “incredibly hurt” by their interaction but never heard back.
Trump issued a statement on Friday night denying he had ever met Zervos at a hotel. He said she continued to contact him for help and sent his office an e-mail in April asking that he visit her restaurant in California.
Compounding Trump’s latest controversy is a 2013 interview that resurfaced this week in which his son, Donald Trump Jr., suggested that women who cannot handle sexual harassment do not belong in the workforce.
“If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. Like, you should go maybe teach kindergarten,” the younger Trump said in a talk radio interview unearthed by BuzzFeed News. “You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like, you know.”
Donald Trump, a former owner of beauty pageants, on Friday also assessed Clinton’s appearance, recounting his reaction to her during Sunday’s debate.
“She walks in front of me, you know. And when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed,” Trump told the crowd in Greensboro.
Trump then expressed bewilderment that President Obama has not faced any similar allegations of sexual harassment.
“Why doesn’t some woman maybe come up and say what they say falsely about me? They could say it about him. They could say it about anybody,” Trump said.
Obama on Friday campaigned for Clinton in Cleveland, a day after his wife spoke in personal terms in New Hampshire about how recent revelations of Trump’s conduct have “shaken me to my core.”
Obama praised his wife for “sticking up for women.”
“She was also talking on behalf of men who know we’re better than this, who don’t want to teach our sons the kind of things that we’ve been hearing on television. That believe that one of the measures of any society is how does it treat its women, how does it treat its girls,” Obama said.
Several Republicans renounced their support of Trump in recent days, but Obama questioned why it’s taken them so long to denounce their nominee’s behavior and rhetoric.
“You said you’re the party of family values. What, you weren’t appalled earlier when he was saying degrading things about women? When he was judging them based on a score of are they a 2 or a 10? That wasn’t enough for you?” Obama said.Tracy Jan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TracyJan.