An already ugly election year grew increasingly disturbing as a slew of new sexual assault allegations against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump emerged Wednesday.
The allegations followed the release this weekend of a 2005 taped interview in which Trump brags about assaulting women, which prompted many Republicans to drop their support for the candidate (and observers have also called on those Republicans to drop the anti-women policies of the party at large); precipitated a massive drop in Trump's polling numbers; and provoked widespread protests.
Trump attempted to deflect the criticism during Sunday's presidential debate by telling moderator Anderson Cooper that he had never kissed a woman without her consent or groped a woman's genitals, as he had bragged about doing on the tape. "No, I have not," he said.
But two women came forward in the New York Times with stories alleging the opposite, and were swiftly followed by accounts of sexual assault in various other publications.
The new reports, Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri said on Thursday, "suggest that he lied on the debate stage and that the disgusting behavior he bragged about in the tape is more than just words."
In the Times article published late Wednesday, one woman alleges that Trump groped her breasts and tried to force his hand up her skirt when they were seated next to each other on a flight over 30 years ago. "It was an assault," she told the Times. Another says that the Republican candidate forcibly kissed her on the mouth when she was 22 and a receptionist at a real estate firm in New York in 2005.
Trump has responded by threatening to sue the Times.
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Meanwhile, a People Magazine reporter published a first-person account of Trump luring her into a room after an interview, shutting the door, and then "within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat," she writes. The assault occurred in 2005 while Trump's wife, Melania, was pregnant and in another wing of the house, the reporter wrote.
And a former Miss Teen USA contestant who wished to remain anonymous alleged in the Guardian that Trump burst into a dressing room while the teenage contestants were changing in 2001. "Mr. Trump just barged right in, didn't say anything, stood there and stared at us," she told the Guardian. The newspaper writes: "'Trump's attitude, she said, seemed to be: 'I can do this because I can.'"
A woman also came forward in the Palm Beach Post, alleging that Trump groped her while she was assisting the staff photographer at his Mar-A-Lago estate in 2003.
In addition to the allegations of sexual assault, an "Entertainment Tonight" feature from 1992 was unearthed that shows Trump apparently sexualizing a 10-year-old girl. He tells the cameraman, "I am going to be dating her in ten years. Can you believe it?" Trump was 46 at the time.
And yet the latest lewd comments and plethora of new allegations are "far from the first time that Trump has denigrated women during the 2016 campaign," as the Guardian observes. "He has called them 'disgusting' and 'animals,' has said a New York Times columnist had 'the face of a dog,' and spent a week fighting with a former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, a Latina woman he described as 'Miss Piggy' and 'Miss Housekeeping.'"
American observers are not the only ones taking note the trend. Indeed, in response to Trump's latest remarks, MPs in New South Wales, Australia, passed a motion labeling Trump a "revolting slug" for his "misogynist, hateful comments" about women and minorities.