“You can do anything,” he said, for emphasis.
On Friday, we may have learned how that works in practice.
Gloria Allred, attorney to wronged, camera-ready women everywhere, held a press conference in Los Angeles with her new client, Summer Zervos, a contestant on season five of The Apprentice, who claims Trump repeatedly made inappropriate sexual advances towards her in 2007 as she tried to get a job at the Trump Organization.
Zervos’ account is different in some ways to other stories to come out in the last seven days about Trump—Miss Washington 2013 who said Trump groped her; two women, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, who told The New York Times Trump groped or kissed them on a plane and in Trump Tower, respectively; and Natasha Stoynoff, a People magazine writer who said she was assaulted by Trump at Mar-a-Lago. She says she met with Trump first at his office in New York, where he kissed her twice and requested her phone number, and then, the night after she rebuffed his lewd and aggressive advances in Los Angeles, she met him at his golf course. But Mr. Trump’s leveraging his power to put women in compromising sexual positions is consistent and damning to the GOP nominee.
The allegation is just the latest installment in a series of bad news stories for the fading candidate, who trails his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, by 6.7 points nationally, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls from October 3 through October 13.
“I vaguely remember Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years,” Donald Trump said in a statement released to the press. “To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”
Trump, who dismissed his own accusers Thursday and Friday by suggesting they weren’t physically attractive enough to drive him to commit sex crimes, has attempted to turn his luck by reminding voters of allegations of rape and sexual assault made against Bill Clinton, and Hillary’s alleged role in intimidating the alleged victims, but that strategy has so far proven ineffectual.
Allred, who wore a white blazer and patterned scarf, walked in front of the microphones and cameras ahead of Zervos and pulled her chair out for her. When Zervos sat down, with her blonde hair styled like Farrah Fawcett, Allred gripped her hand maternally.
“Today another woman has courageously come forward to accused Donald Trump of engaging in an inappropriate sexual conduct with her,” Allred said. Her three-page statement, read aloud and distributed to reporters, directly addressed the Republican nominee as “Donald.”
“Donald, before you can become President of the United States you must first learn how to treat women with respect,” she said. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Zervos then delivered her prepared remarks: “I had the utmost admiration for Mr. Trump and even after I was ‘fired’ by him I continued to see him as a possible mentor and potential employer,” she said. She explained that she contacted his office in 2007, a year after season 5 of The Apprentice had aired, to arrange lunch. Trump instead invited her to his office, and “when I arrived he kissed me on the lips.”
He complimented her repeatedly, she said, “he said that he had never met anyone with my combination of being smart, attractive and with as large a set of ‘balls’ as I had. He said that he would love to have me work for him.” He told her he’d be coming to Los Angeles soon and he’d contact her. He asked for her number and she scrawled it out in marker. Then he kissed her again on the lips.
“I left hurriedly and called a friend who lived in New York because I was upset by the kiss,” she said, “I also called my parents to tell them what had happened.”
Zervos said she and her “loved ones” came to the strange conclusion “that this was undoubtedly some form of greeting and that I should not take it as anything other than that.”
Trump then called her when she was back on the West Coast, and “referred to me as his OC Angel.” She said he “wanted to know who was with me at that hour” and “scolded me about my penmanship because it was difficult for him to read my telephone number as I had written it for him. Even though he had called me he concluded the call by asking me for my phone number.”
When he called again to tell her he’d be visiting town, they arranged to meet at the Beverly Hills Hotel and he “asked where I would like to have dinner.”
Trump’s security met Zervos at the hotel and brought her to his “bungalow.” When she walked into the entryway, she “saw Mr. Trump’s clothes on the bed” in the bedroom to the left. “I did not see him but he greeted me with ‘hello’ in a sing-song voice,” she said. She mimicked him, “helllllllllooooooo!”
She said she was concerned he’d mistaken her for someone else, so she sat in the living room and waited for him to come out. When he did, he had his suit on, and he started “kissing me open mouthed as he was pulling me towards him.”
She said she got away and sat down, but agreed to go sit next to him when he asked, which is when he started kissing and groping her again. She again walked away, but then he led her by the hand to the bedroom. When she left the bedroom, she claims he “turned me around and said, ‘Let’s lay down and watch some telly telly.’”
She then described a back and forth in which Trump mocked her and “began thrusting his genitals” while attempting to kiss her again. “He said, ‘what do you want?’ I said, ‘I came to have dinner.’ He said ‘okay, we will have dinner.’ He paced around the room. He acted like he was a bit angry. He pointed out that someone had delivered a fruit basket. I felt it was to show me how important he was.”
While they shared a club sandwich, she claims Trump advised her to let her home go into default even though her mortgage was in good standing. “He advised that then the bank would take anything to rid themselves of a problem loan. He told me to call the bank and tell them that I was leaving the keys on the table for them to pick up. He said that would be a mini version of what he does,” she said.
When the evening ended—without sex—Trump told her to meet him the next day at his golf course in Palos Verdes, which she did, although she said she was “conflicted…I wondered if the sexual behavior was some kind of test and whether or not I had passed.”
At the golf course, Trump introduced her to the general manager before vanishing. “Mr. Trump called a few days later to ask if I had called the bank as he had instructed. I told him that it was Christmas Eve and that I had not done so as of yet,” she said. Then she was offered a job, by the general manager, but the proposed salary was “half of what I had told Mr. Trump I was seeking in terms of salary.”
She called Trump, “and told him that I was upset and that I felt that I was being penalized for not sleeping with him.” Trump told her he couldn’t talk because he was golfing and instructed her not to call his personal phone number again.
When she contacted him again, through his office, “Mr. Trump asked me to send him a letter setting forth the jobs within his organization that I felt that I was well suited for, which I did. When I subsequently spoke with him he gave me the run around. He told me that he had not received the letter that I sent him and then told me that he could not afford to hire me as he was laying off thousands of employees.”
Zervos, who said she is a Republican, ended her remarks by addressing Trump directly. “After hearing the released audio tapes and your denials during the debate I felt that I had to speak out about your behavior. You do not have the right to treat women as sexual objects just because you are a star,” she said.