With less than two hours to go before the pivotal second presidential debate, Republican nominee Donald Trump held an impromptu press conference Sunday with three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, and one woman who says Hillary Clinton was unsympathetic to her when Clinton was a public defender.
Trump has been threatening for weeks to raise the issue of the former president’s sexual misconduct, and on Sunday he followed through. Paula Jones accused Clinton of exposing himself to her in 1991. Kathleen Willey, a former White House aide, said that then-President Clinton groped her in 1993. Juanita Broaddrick said Clinton raped her in the 1970s. Another woman, Kathy Shelton, was the alleged victim in a rape case in 1975 in which Hillary Clinton was assigned to act as the public defender of the accused.
All four women were seated at a table with Trump on Sunday night, and all four women will reportedly be in the audience at the debate.
“These four very courageous women have asked to be here and it was our honor to help them,” Trump said as he introduced the panel.
“I’m here to support Mr. Trump because he’s going to make America great again,” Jones began. “And I think everybody else should vote for him, and I think they should all look at the fact that he’s a good person, he’s not what other people have been saying he’s been, like Hillary. So, think about that.”
Shelton went next. “At 12 years old, Hillary put me through something you’d never put a 12-year-old through,” she said of Hillary Clinton’s actions as the assigned public defender of a factory supervisor whom Shelton accused of rape.
Broaddrick defended Trump over the revelation that he bragged about sexually assaulting women in a 2005 tape.
“Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison,” Broaddrick said. A former nursing home administrator, Broaddrick came forward in the late 1990s, saying that Bill Clinton had raped her more than 20 years earlier. She made the accusations after signing a sworn affidavit that stated, “I do not have any information to offer regarding a nonconsensual or unwelcome sexual advance by Mr. Clinton,” during Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit. No charges resulted from the allegations.
Willey was the last speaker, but rather than talk about her experience with the Clintons, she focused on her support for Trump: “I think we can bring peace to this world, and I think Donald Trump can lead us to that point.”
As the press was being escorted from the room, a reporter could be heard asking Trump why he bragged about touching women “without their consent.”
“Why don’t y’all ask Bill Clinton that?” Jones snapped at the journalists. “Why don’t y’all go and ask Hillary as well?”
The Clinton campaign responded quickly to the press conference. “We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” said Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri.
“Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that,” Palmieri said. “If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.