U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to discredit both the news media and some of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, calling the allegations against him “fabricated stories” and “fake news.”
“Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia — so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met,” Trump wrote in a tweet. “FAKE NEWS!”
On Monday, three women who during the 2016 presidential campaign accused Trump of previous sexual misbehaviour renewed their public push to gain attention for their stories, appearing in a joint television interview that was followed by a news conference in New York.
The president’s tweet seemed to be responding to the flare-up of interest in the claims against him, which come amid the #MeToo movement that is roiling the nation and has taken down alleged sexual harassers and abusers in a wide range of industries, from entertainment to politics to media.
After the downfall of media mogul Harvey Weinstein prompted a national discussion — and reckoning — many of the more the more than a dozen women who had previously come forward to accuse Trump of sexual improprieties felt anguish that the same standards of behaviour did not seem to apply to the president. The three women who spoke out again on Monday said they were hoping, in part, that their stories would gain momentum in the newly charged environment.
They also called on Congress to investigate the allegations against Trump, an appeal that comes as four Democratic senators have now called on the president to step down amid the sexual harassment accusations.
Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, often mentioned as a likely 2020 presidential candidate, was one of the senators who called on Trump to resign. And on Tuesday, the president also used Twitter to attack her.
“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” he wrote. “Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”
Gillibrand responded to Trump via Twitter later that morning.
The White House Monday dismissed the accusations against the president, saying they were old news that Trump has previously denied and that have already been litigated during the presidential campaign. But the president himself remains frustrated by the allegations, believing they are politically motivated.
Since his November election, Trump has even occasionally cast doubt on the Access Hollywood tape — first published by The Washington Post, in which he boasted about grabbing women by the genitals — suggesting it may have been doctored or inauthentic.
Trump has repeatedly denied all of the accusations against him. But the idea that he does not know or has not met any of the women who have accused him of sexual misbehaviour — as he claimed in his tweet Tuesday — is simply false. The list of women includes a former “Apprentice” contestant, a former business partner, a woman who has a photo of the two of them together, a contestant in one of his pageants and a People reporter who interviewed him.
Though Trump has emphatically denied his morning routine, he often spends his early hours flipping between Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, and it’s possible a segment on these most recent accusers piqued his ire.