Donald Trump threatened the New York Times with a libel suit if the newspaper didn’t take down a story about women who claimed he sexually assaulted them. The newspaper responded Thursday: they won’t.
Two women spoke to the Times and said they wanted to come forward with their claims after watching the Republican nominee deny he had ever sexually assaulted women during Sunday’s presidential debate.
One alleges he groped her on a plane. The second woman says during a handshake he wouldn’t let go of her hand before he began kissing her.
In response, Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to the newspaper late Wednesday night saying the article was an open platform for those who want to “smear Mr. Trump’s name.”
“Your article is reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se,” it reads.
“It is apparent from … the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”
Late last night the Trump campaign called on the NY Times to retract story on Trump accusers pic.twitter.com/Ba9CEaVvLm
— Jackson Proskow (@JProskowGlobal) October 13, 2016
The lawyers demand that the Times remove the article from their website and publish a retraction immediately.
At a campaign event in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump confirmed that he was suing the newspaper, and reaffirmed that the claims were false.
“These vicious claims about me about inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false… These claims are all fabricated, they are outright fiction and complete lies.
“We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies and it will be made public in appropriate way and .. time.”
Times executive editor Dean Baquet told CNN money that he’s standing by the story.
David McCraw, the lawyer for the Times, replied to Trump’s lawyers in a letter declining to remove the story or apologize.
“The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance… Our reporters diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts.”
NYT's legal team responds to Trump. pic.twitter.com/Zvrx2hm93l
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) October 13, 2016
He says the Times did what law allows: “We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern.”
He also said the newspaper had received reports from other women which they did not publish.
McCraw ends the letter saying the Times welcomes “the opportunity to have a court set [Trump] straight.”
In Sunday night’s debate, co-moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump directly if he grabbed women the way he described in a leaked 2005 video.
“No I have not,” he replied at the time.
In the video leaked last week by the Washington Post he described how he would hit on women without their consent, including grabbing their genitalia.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump said in the tape.
He dismissed the comments as “locker-room talk,” but said he hadn’t acted as his comments suggested.
The women said they were compelled to come forward after they watched him deny that he’d ever grabbed women without their consent.
Separately, a People Magazine reporter also came forward with a first-person account of being attacked by Trump when interviewing him.