In his latest tweetstorm, President Trump on Tuesday brushed off the story of a sexual-harassment accuser who claims he kissed her in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago.
“It all happened at Trump Tower,” Rachel Crooks, now 35, told The Washington Post. “I had just moved to New York, and I was working as a secretary for another company in the building. That’s where he forced himself on me.”
Crooks is one of 19 women who’ve accused the president of sexual misconduct.
“A woman I don’t know and, to the best of my knowledge, never met, is on the FRONT PAGE of the Fake News Washington Post saying I kissed her (for two minutes yet) in the lobby of Trump Tower 12 years ago,” the president tweeted. “Never happened! Who would do this in a public space with live security cameras running,” he asked.
Crooks responded to his tweet soon afterward: “It’s liars like you in politics that have prompted me to run for office myself.”
“Please, by all means, share the footage from the hallway outside the 24th floor residential elevator bank on the morning of January 11, 2006,” she challenged Trump.
Indeed, Crooks is not the only woman to accuse the reality-TV star of attacking her in a public space. At least three other women have said the now-president groped, fondled, or forcibly kissed them in front of other people.
Jessica Leeds claims that Trump groped her on a commercial flight in the early 1980s. The now-74-year-old told The New York Times that Trump raised the armrest separating them just after the flight took off. She claims he grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hands up her skirt.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
Kristin Anderson told The Post that in the early ’90s Trump touched her genitals at The China Club in Manhattan. Without introducing himself or speaking to her, Trump allegedly reached his hand up her skirt while they were seated next to each other.
“This is the vivid part for me: The person on my right, unbeknownst to me was Donald Trump, put their hands up my skirt. He did touch my vagina through my underwear, absolutely,” she said.
Former Miss USA Contestant Temple Taggart McDowell said Trump forcibly kissed her in 1997 during a pageant rehearsal in Shreveport, Louisiana, when she was 21 years old.
“He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross,’” she told The New York Times. “He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”
And Trump is not alone. Alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment and assault have often committed the alleged misconduct in public spaces where others could witness it.
In fact, five women have recently accused President George H. W. Bush of groping them during public photo-ops or press events, with the earliest accusation stretching as far back as 1992 at a fundraiser for his reelection campaign.
Eight separate women have accused now-resigned Sen. Al Franken of similar behavior, with many of the allegations occurring in public places like national political events, the Minnesota State Fair, and at an event for the state’s women’s political caucus.
Even actor Terry Crews has said that he was groped in the middle of a party by a “high level Hollywood executive.”
A woman who accused Democratic Texas state Sen. Borris Miles of offering money to an intern and asking her to “fuck with me” tonight outside of a bar in Austin told The Daily Beast that the brazenness of the public solicitation was part of what shocked her the most.
“I was surprised that it was so open, like he did it in a public place,” she said. “That kind of blew my mind, especially because he’s a lawmaker.”
Another woman accused that same politician of forcibly kissing her in a hallway of the state Capitol.
Miles has denied both of those accusations, in the process echoing Trump’s red-herring argument that perpetrators would never harass victims in public places.
“To charge that the alleged activities occurred in full view of members, House staff, lobby and fellow reporters outside the House chamber but remained unreported for six years is simply not credible,” his spokeswoman said.
In Oregon, Republican state lawmaker Sen. Jeff Kruse, who was accused of groping and harassing at least seven women—including colleagues, interns, law students, and lobbyists—was allegedly caught on camera during some of the incidents.
Kruse initially told an independent investigator that he did not want to stop because “he did not know which females in the workplace had complained about him, and he did not want to stop hugging and touching all of them.” He later stepped down.
A coach in Missouri was charged this month with three felony counts of child molestation for allegedly touching the genitals of 7-to-8-year-old girls who were practicing splits in the middle of the gym in town, where other adults and children may have witnessed the behavior. After his initial arrest, at least three other accusations were reported, police told The Daily Beast at the time.
If Trump is claiming it’s improbable that a man would grope or assault a woman in public, he will need to take on more than just Crooks—but the dozens of other women and men who’ve come forward in recent months with similar claims against their perpetrators.