Shortly before the second presidential debate Sunday, Donald Trump held a news conference with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment or assault. They were joined by a fourth woman, Kathy Shelton, whose rapist Hillary Clinton was appointed to defend in 1975.
“At 12 years old, Hillary Clinton put me through something you should never put a 12-year-old through,” Shelton told reporters Sunday. “And she says she is for women and children.” (In a 2014 interview, the prosecutor on that case told CNN Clinton initially voiced reservations about the case and petitioned, unsuccessfully, to be taken off of it.)
At the press conference Sunday, Trump told reporters he would be meeting with the four women in private, presumably to discuss their allegations against Bill and Hillary Clinton in order to raise the allegations at the evening’s debate.
In the final minutes of the first presidential debate, Trump suggested he was considering the accusations against Bill Clinton in the future. “I was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family, and I said to myself, I can’t do it,” the GOP nominee said, referring to the accusations against Bill Clinton by made by Jones, Willey, Broaddrick and others.
He later indicated he’d decided against trying to use the accusations against her husband to smear Hillary Clinton, a decision his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, extolled on cable news in the days after the debate. “Restraint is a virtue, and it’s a presidential virtue,” Conway said.
Trump appears to have changed his mind since Friday, when 2005 tape surfaced on which Trump brags that because he’s a celebrity, women will not reject his sexual advances.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Broaddrick, who in 1999 came forward to claim Bill Clinton raped her in 1978, said on Sunday. “Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me, I don’t think there is any comparison.”
When Trump was asked about his 2005 comments – “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy” – and whether or not he still believed being a celebrity entitled him to touch women without their consent, Paula Jones jumped to Trump’s defense.
“Why don’t y’all go ask Bill Clinton that?” Jones says. “Why don’t y’all go ask Bill Clinton that?”