Samantha Holvey, a Miss America contender in 2006; Jessica Leeds, who says Donald Trump groped her on a plane in the 1970s; and Rachel Crooks, a Trump Tower receptionist who said he kissed her on the mouth in 2005 restated their claims this morning during a group interview with NBC News’ Megyn Kelly during her Today show segment. The women have come forward again as the subject of sexual harassment and assault have moved into the spotlight in the long wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and the subsequent #MeToo movement that found itself on the cover of Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue.
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And while President Donald J. Trump continues to dismiss the assertions as “false claims,” former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley – the President’s appointee as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one of the most prominent women in his administration, said Sunday on CBS News’ Face The Nation that his accusers “should be heard and they should be dealt with.” The comment was widely seen as a sharp rebuke to the president at whose pleasure Haley serves.
“It was heartbreaking last year,” Holvey told Kelly about the intervening months since she first joined the women who claimed they had been victims of sexual improprieties and assault by Trump, who was then campaigning for the presidency. “We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and how he views women, and for them to say ‘Eh, we don’t care,’ it hurt.”
Trump, she said, entered women-only dressing rooms during the Miss America pageant the year she competed in the contest, lined them all up and was “just looking me over like I was just a piece of meat. I was not a human being. I didn’t have a brain, I didn’t have a personality,” she said. “I was just simply there for his pleasure. It left me feeling very gross, very dirty…It wasn’t what I signed up for.”
Crooks said she was shocked when Trump unexpectedly kissed her, and remembered “hiding in our boss’s office” before calling her sister and telling her, adding that Trump also asked for her phone number, prompting her to respond: “What do you need that for?”
At the time the allegations were first made, Trump denied all of the claims, in part because they weren’t appealing enough to attract his attention: “When you looked at that horrible woman last night, you said ‘I don’t think so!’” he said during one campaign event. This morning the White House released a statement again dismissing the allegations.
“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” she said on CBS Sunday morning news program. “I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”