- REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Lawyers representing Donald Trump sent a letter to The New York Times early Thursday demanding a retraction for a story that profiled two women accusing him of various forms of sexual misconduct.
The letter, which was addressed to Times executive editor Dean Baquet, was also published online and emailed to reporters by the Trump campaign.
“Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel,” said the letter, which was signed by Marc E. Kasowitz. “It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of your article, that it is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”
Trump is the Republican Party’s nominee for president.
Trump’s lawyers threatened to “pursue all available actions and remedies” if The Times failed to comply with the retraction demand.
Hillary Clinton’s press secretary, Brian Fallon, weighed in on the threat, saying: “Trump’s lawyer’s letter is meaningless. Baquet will line his birdcage with it.”
On Wednesday, multiple stories were published in which women accused Trump of various forms of inappropriate touching. The Trump campaign has denied the accusations and accused The Times of performing “an entirely inadequate investigation” in its interviews of two women who told their stories to the publication.
Jessica Leeds told The Times she was on a plane next to Trump, whom she had not previously met, in the early 1980s when the real-estate tycoon lifted the armrest between them and began touching her. She said he grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she told The Times. “His hands were everywhere … It was an assault.”
Leeds said she fled to the back of the plane but never made a formal complaint. She did tell her story to at least four individuals, whom The Times also interviewed to corroborate the claims.
Rachel Crooks told The Times of an incident she said occurred in 2005 – the year in which the damning leaked “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about groping women was recorded.
Crooks, 22 at the time, said Trump began kissing her on the mouth after holding on to an extended handshake.
“It was so inappropriate,” she told The Times. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.”