Donald Trump’s campaign was drafting a defamation lawsuit against the New York Times late Wednesday night, hours after the news organization published a story in which two women accused the Republican presidential nominee of sexual assault, sources confirmed to the Washington Examiner.
Within hours of threatening to take legal action against the major publication for launching a “completely false, coordinated character assassination against” him, Trump had requested that his attorneys draft a major lawsuit against the Times.
“This is war,” said one campaign insider with knowledge of the situation. The same source accused the Times and other mainstream media outlets of “working hand in hand” with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to sabotage Trump in the final month before the election.
“We’re coming at them strong and everybody better have a good lawyer,” the source said.
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Trump and senior aides on his campaign have forcefully denied that there is any truth to allegations published by the Times on Wednesday evening. The two women featured in the report, Jessica Leeds and Rachel Cook, claimed that Trump made unwanted sexual advances on them on separate occasions.
They were both watching Sunday’s presidential debate when the GOP nominee told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he had never touched a woman sexually without her consent.
“He was like an octopus. His hands were everywhere,” said Leeds, who claimed that Trump grabber her breasts and attempted to reach up her skirt when they were seated next to each other on a first-class flight to New York three decades ago.
“It is absurd to think that one of the most recognizable business leaders on the planet with a strong record of empowering women in his companies would do the things alleged in this story, and for this to only become public decades later in the final month of a campaign for president should say it all,” Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, said in a statement shortly after the Times published its report.
“Further, the Times story buries the pro-Clinton financial and social media activity on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, reinforcing that this truly is nothing more than a political attack,” he added. “This is a sad day for the Times.”
But there were other problems for Trump on Wednesday. A video emerged showing him saying about a 10-year old girl, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”
The Palm Beach Post reported that a woman has come forward to say Trump groped her at Mar-a-Lago in Florida 13 years ago, when she was 23. And another woman was expected to be interviewed Thursday morning with additional claims of harassment.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign jumped on the wave of news late Wednesday, and accused Trump of lying at the last debate when he said he never sexually abused any woman.
“These reports suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape are more than just words,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director.