Three women who claim they were sexually harassed by Donald Trump called on Congress Monday to investigate the US president’s behavior and allegations of his misconduct.
The White House has repeatedly rejected the allegations by the women, who first came forward with claims of harassment during last year’s presidential race.
In recent months countless women have broken their silence about the abuse they have allegedly suffered at the hands of powerful men in the worlds of entertainment, the media, business and politics.
With a cultural shift empowering women to overcome their fear and speak out, and with three US lawmakers announcing their resignations from Congress last week over sexual harassment allegations, some of Trump’s accusers are publicly repeating their stories and demanding accountability.
“We are private citizens, and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, and for them to say, ‘Nah, we don’t care’ — it hurt,” Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, told NBC.
But today “the environment’s different,” she said. “Let’s try again.”
Sixteen women overall reportedly have come forward with accusations of misconduct by Trump.
Three of them appeared on NBC, then held a press event in New York to demand action from Congress and recount details of Trump’s alleged abuse against them more than a year after they first came forward.
Rachel Crooks, who says the real estate magnate forcibly kissed her on the mouth after she introduced herself to him at Trump Tower where she worked in 2005, urged lawmakers to “put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump’s history of sexual misconduct.”
“I want to believe that as Americans we can put aside our political inclinations and admit that some things in fact do transcend politics,” she told the event, where she and Holvey appeared alongside fellow accuser Jessica Leeds.
– ‘Very gross’ –
Leeds said the accusations surfacing in the wake of the allegations against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein were evidence that some sexual predators were now being held accountable.
“But we are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is,” she said.
Crooks voiced hope “that we will hold Mr Trump to the same standard of Harvey Weinstein and the other men who were held accountable for their reprehensible behavior.”
Leeds says she was groped and forcibly kissed by Trump on a commercial flight decades ago, while Holvey alleges Trump behaved inappropriately when she was a contestant in his Miss USA pageant in 2006, by coming backstage as she and others were in states of undress.
Holvey said she felt like she “was just simply there for his pleasure. It left me feeling very gross, very dirty.”
The White House swiftly dismissed as “false” the claims by the three women.
“These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory,” a White House spokesperson said.
“The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”
Crooks called the White House denials “laughable.”
In an apparent divergence from the White House line, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that any women claiming to be victims of sexual harassment — including those implicating Trump — “should be heard.”