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High-profile Donald Trump campaign surrogates fanned out across cable news in full damage-control mode Thursday morning, hours after multiple women turned to various publications to accuse Trump of sexual assault.
On Wednesday night, People magazine, The New York Times, BuzzFeed, and the Palm Beach Post all published different stories from women accusing Trump of sexual assault.
Trump’s high-profile surrogates immediately began working to discredit the accusations and the reporting, focusing most of their fire on The Times, which had previously reported on women who felt degraded by Trump in the workplace.
Several Trump surrogates suggested that the women came forward out of a desire for fame.
“There’s an atmosphere that has been created by The New York Times and others that says, ‘Look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we’ll give you fame, we’ll give you whatever you need,'” retired neurosurgeon and informal Trump adviser Ben Carson told Fox News. “What a bunch of crap.”
Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski dismissed the accusers on CNN as “people making accusations about Donald Trump who ran into him in an elevator for three minutes.”
National spokeswoman Katrina Pierson argued on CNN that there was no way one of the accusers who alleged Trump assaulted her on an airplane could have been telling the truth, arguing her story couldn’t be real because of the plane’s armrest configuration.
“Why would they come out?” Pierson said. “Fifteen minutes of fame.”
Other notable Trump supporters suggested that these accusations were directed at a younger Trump who was comparable to the current Republican presidential nominee.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. described the Times as “very anti-Trump,” and said that he would support Trump despite the accusations of sexual assault.
“I’m going to vote for Donald Trump because I believe he’s best qualified to be president of the United States. I’m not going to say anything to besmirch the character of any of these women. It’s the heat of an election, it’s four weeks until election day,” Falwell said.
He added: “What about the Donald Trump of today? He’s a changed man.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that The Times “went back over 30 years to find someone who had a bad airplane flight,” and attempted to pivot to a critique of Hillary Clinton.
“I’m happy to stipulate Donald Trump in the past. That’s not the Donald Trump that Callista and I know. But Donald Trump in the past may have been crude, if you’re willing to accept that Hillary Clinton is both corrupt and dangerous,” Gingrich told Fox Business on Thursday.