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Donald Trump held a short presser with a panel of Bill Clinton’s sexual assault accusers, including Paula Jones, 90 minutes before the debate on Sunday.
The event was put on Facebook Live video, with Trump calling it the end of his “debate prep.”
“These four very courageous women have asked to be here, and it was our honor to help them,” the Republican presidential nominee said before introducing Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey.
Each of the women then made a short statement.
“Actions speak louder than words. Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison,” said Broaddrick, who alleged that Bill Clinton raped her in 1978. He denied the allegations. Her lawsuit was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed.
Bill Clinton never faced criminal charges in relation to any of the allegations. He did settle a lawsuit with one of the women who claimed harassment.
Shelton was a 12-year-old Arkansas sexual assault victim whose alleged assailant was defended in 1975 by Hillary Clinton.
The presser appeared to end abruptly when someone in the room started repeatedly yelling, “Why do you touch women without their consent?” — a reference to Trump’s resurfaced comments from Friday.
Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary Clinton’s communications director, said she wasn’t surprised to see Trump “continue his destructive race to the bottom,” according to the Associated Press. She said the Democratic nominee was “prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way” on the debate stage.
Hillary Clinton then tweeted a reference to Michelle Obama’s speech from the Democratic National Convention, which she had said in response to Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Convention.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 9, 2016
The four women, save from Jones, were present inside the debate hall once it got underway.
The stunt comes as Trump remains under fire for a resurfaced 2005 conversation where he uses sexually aggressive language about women. The vulgar comments, released by the Washington Post on Friday, were made during a hot mic conversation with Access Hollywood‘s then co-host Billy Bush, who has now been suspended from his current post on NBC’s Today show.
“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” said Trump in the conversation about Access Hollywood‘s then co-host Nancy O’Dell. “I did try and f— her. She was married.”
Trump also said of women in general: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. … Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.”
Trump released a statement and video apology about the resurfaced audio, saying: “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Over the weekend, a growing chorus of Republicans called for Trump to quit, including Sen. John McCain, former GOP contender Carly Fiorina, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kirstie Alley. Trump, however, vowed to “never” withdraw.
Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, canceled a campaign event Saturday and released the following statement: “As a husband and a father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday. I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them. I am grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.”
On Sunday, former New York City Mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani said, “They’re remarks you certainly don’t want to hear from anyone, much less a presidential candidate.”
The presser took place shortly before the town hall-style debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton was set to begin. The second debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton is moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz. It aired live at 6 p.m. PT, from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.
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