President Trump’s latest battle in his war with media organizations (“not including Fox“) involves an unlikely participant: Access Hollywood.
In the wake of several sexual misconduct scandals that have rocked Hollywood and Washington, Trump has reportedly been quietly attempting to discredit an Access Hollywood tape from 2005, which came to light during the 2016 presidential campaign and revealed Trump making lewd comments about women.
Trump defended the remarks as “locker-room talk” during the campaign. But the president has told at least two people that the Access Hollywood tape was fake, the New York Times reported over the weekend. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN on Monday that the report had been supported by a third person.
On Monday night, Access Hollywood shot back and confirmed that the infamous audio of Trump bragging about kissing and groping women without their consent was real.
“We wanted to clear something up that has been reported across the media landscape,” host Natalie Morales said. “Let us make this perfectly clear — the tape is very real. Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker-room talk.’ He said every one of those words.”
TRUMP: The "Access Hollywood" tape might be fake
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD: What you talkin' 'bout Willis? pic.twitter.com/EOFtO26czr
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 28, 2017
On CNN Monday evening, Arianne Zucker, an actress seen greeting Trump and former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in the video, also said it was authentic.
“I don’t know how else that could be fake unless someone’s planting words in your mouth,” Zucker told host Anderson Cooper. “But it is puzzling to me… How do you apologize for something and then renege on it?”
“How do you apologize for something and then renege on it?” – Arianne Zucker, who appeared in the "Access Hollywood" tape reacts to reports of Trump questioning its authenticity https://t.co/hXLaGiktCa https://t.co/VARP7ztrbR
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) November 28, 2017
In the tape, Trump is heard bragging about his ability to kiss, touch and grab any woman he wants, simply because he’s a “star.” Bush and Trump then used vulgar language to describe Zucker’s body, with Trump adding he may need to “use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her.”
When asked Monday about Trump’s attempts to discredit the video, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders avoided answering questions directly.
“The president addressed this, this was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president and the fact he’s sitting here in the Oval Office today,” Sanders said. “He’s made his position on that clear at that time, as have the American people in support of him.”
16 women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from voyeurism to allegations of outright assault. One accuser, Jessica Leeds, claimed Trump groped her and tried to put his hand up her skirt during a flight in the early 1980s. “He was like an octopus,” Leeds told the New York Times. “His hands were everywhere.”
In October, President Trump called the allegations “fake news,” adding, “It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful, what happens, but that happens in the world of politics.” A week later, Sanders was asked if the “official White House position” was that all 16 women were “lying.”
“Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” Sanders said before moving on to another question.
— Matt Wilstein (@mattwilstein) October 27, 2017