Three women, who last year accused Donald Trump of making unwanted sexual advances, renewed their allegations Monday, saying it was time Congress investigate claims against the president in the wake of dozens of other powerful American men being held accountable for their treatment of women.
Rachel Crooks, who accused Trump of forcibly kissing her 12 years ago when she worked as a receptionist at his Trump Tower business headquarters in New York, said lawmakers should "put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump's history of sexual misconduct."
She appeared alongside the two other Trump accusers at a New York news conference: Samantha Holvey, who alleged that Trump walked uninvited into a backstage dressing area where she and others were in various states of undress at a 2012 beauty pageant Trump owned, and Jessica Leeds, who accused Trump of groping her when she sat next to him on a commercial airline flight in the late 1970s.
During last year's presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual misconduct extending over several decades, but he denied all the accusations, and said that an explicit 2005 taped comment of him boasting of groping women was merely "locker room talk."
On Monday, as the three women appeared on NBC's Today show before their news conference, the White House again rejected the allegations.
"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," the White House 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."
Later, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "We feel these allegations have been answered" by the results of the 2016 election. "The American people knew this and voted for the president."
The women's renewed claims against Trump come as powerful men from film making, politics, the media and business have been fired or forced to resign in the last two months after women came forward with graphic details of unwanted sexual advances.
Crooks said of the alleged Trump Tower encounter with the future president, he "repeatedly kissed my cheeks and ultimately my lips in an encounter that has since impacted my life well beyond the initial occurrence and feelings of self-doubt and insignificance I had. Unfortunately, given Mr. Trump's notoriety and the fact that he was a partner of my employer's, not to mention the owner of the building, I felt there was nothing I could do. Given this hostile work environment, my only solution at the time was to simply avoid additional encounters with him."
Holvey said, "As a little girl, I would watch the Miss USA pageant every year and dream of being one of those beautiful, successful, incredibly confident women. These dreams never included a man lining us all up to look us over like we were pieces of meat.
"These dreams never included a man coming into the backstage hair and makeup area while I sat naked under a robe, as he walked around looking at us like we were his property before he moved into the dressing room," she said.
"And these dreams certainly never included this same man becoming president of the United States," she added. "I have a new dream now: that this man will be held accountable for his actions and that future generations of women can fulfill their dreams without worry of anyone treating them like they are less than because they're a woman."
While Trump has said the women's allegations are false, one of his key government appointees, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday, "Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with."
Asked whether Trump's election meant that voters had decided the issue in his case, Haley said, "That's for the people to decide. I know that he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward, and we should all be willing to listen to them."