The New York Times responded Thursday to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's threat of a libel suit against the publication after it reported that two women alleged that Trump touched them inappropriately. The Times spoke to Jessica Leeds, who alleged that Trump groped her on a flight over 30 years ago, and Rachel Crooks, who said Trump kissed her on the mouth without her consent in her workplace in 2005.
When the Times asked Trump about the allegations, he denied them, saying “none of this ever took place.” The Times reported that Trump then began shouting at their reporter. “You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter as she questioned him about the allegations.
After the article’s publication, Trump lashed out at the Times on Twitter:
The phony story in the failing @nytimes is a TOTAL FABRICATION. Written by same people as last discredited story on women. WATCH!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2016
Trump and his lawyers threatened to sue the Times for libel if they didn’t remove the article from their website and issue a retraction.
In a letter to Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz sent Thursday, New York Times general counsel David McCraw wrote that the publication stands by its story.
“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one's reputation,” McCraw wrote, adding:
Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consentual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host's request to discuss Mr. Trump's own daughter as a "piece of ass." Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump's unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest affect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.
McCraw wrote that the story was an “issue of national importance.”
“If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight," McCraw wrote.
The allegations detailed by the Times were just some of the claims that Trump assaulted women that have emerged in recent days.
The full letter from the Times is below:
NYT responds to Trump re: cease and desist pic.twitter.com/3AozcWSIl6— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 13, 2016