The political fallout continues today from the leaked audio in which Republican presidential nominee discussed women in extremely explicit and lewd terms in an interview with former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush. Trump initially responded with a dismissive statement referring to the remarks as "locker room banter," but the remarks drew a stunning breadth of condemnation across the political spectrum on Friday night, including from RNC chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
Ultimately, Trump issued another attempt at an apology via a taped video statement late Friday night, in which he promised to be a "better man," and defiantly promised to bring up the sexual indiscretions of former President Bill Clinton during tomorrow night's presidential debate, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's alleged role in covering up those indiscretions.
Central to the Trump team's defense is the contention that Trump's comments were just that: comments. Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly insisted since the tape was released that Trump's comments constituted mere "banter" and that, while unacceptable, they are less serious than the actual indiscretions allegedly committed by former President Bill Clinton.
During the course of the leaked tape, Trump can be heard to ask Bush for a Tic-Tac, remarking, "I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it."
Last night, in a conversation with Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes, CNN Host Erin Burnett claimed that Trump had, in fact, engaged in eerily similar behavior with one of her friends.
Wow. Erin Burnett says Trump popped a tic tac and tried to kiss a friend she knows https://t.co/GsYV2Y1upG— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 8, 2016
Over the last several days, numerous women have come forth to claim that Trump either actually groped them or forcibly attempted to do so in a manner similar to what was described on the leaked tape. Earlier this week, the Associated Press interviewed twenty former crew members - many of whom spoke on the record - from the set of Trump's hit television series, "The Apprentice." According to the AP:
The staffers and contestants agreed to recount their experiences as Trump's behavior toward women has become a core issue in the presidential campaign. Interviewed separately, they gave concurring accounts of inappropriate conduct on the set.
Eight former crew members recalled that he repeatedly made lewd comments about a camerawoman he said had a nice rear, comparing her beauty to that of his daughter, Ivanka.
During one season, Trump called for female contestants to wear shorter dresses that also showed more cleavage, according to contestant Gene Folkes. Several cast members said Trump had one female contestant twirl before him so he could ogle her figure.
Trump, for his part, has denied any allegation that he has actually engaged in any forcible inappropriate sexual activity towards women. During the course of his apology last night, he insisted that the remarks he made in the video "don't reflect who I am."