Three women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault are demanding that Congress investigate their claims.
Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks recalled their alleged experiences with Trump Monday morning in an interview with NBC News’ Megyn Kelly, which served as a preview of a news conference to be held later in the day.
Over a year after the presidential election, Leeds, Holvey and Crooks reflected on what it was like watching Trump get elected after they had accused him of sexual harassment and assault.
“It was heartbreaking last year when we all — we’re private citizens — for us to put ourselves out there to try to show America who this man is and especially how he views women and for them to say ‘Meh, we don’t care,’” Holvey said. “It hurt.”
A White House spokesperson responded to the three women’s accusations in a statement to Kelly.
“These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgement by delivering a decisive victory,” the statement read. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”
Crooks called the statement “laughable.”
In a Monday morning news conference, Leeds, Holvey and Crooks urged Congress to open an investigation into the sexual harassment and assault allegations against the president. Trump has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting 16 women.
Leeds addressed the recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men including Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore and Al Franken.
“It became apparent that in some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously and people were being held accountable — except for our president,” she said. “… We’re at the position now where in some areas of our society, people are being held accountable for unwanted behavior, but we are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is?”
Crooks pointed to the recent investigation into Senator Al Franken’s alleged inappropriate behavior.
“If they were willing to investigate Senator Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” she said. “… We shouldn’t let politicians get away with this.”
Holvey added that “this isn’t a partisan issue.”
Leeds said that she, Holvey and Crooks do not welcome all of this attention. “None of us are comfortable with is,” she said. “If we had been comfortable being a star, we would have done something else with our lives, but this is important.”
Leeds first spoke to The New York Times last year, alleging that Trump groped her on an airplane more than 30 years ago.
“He was like an octopus,” she said. “His hands were everywhere.”
In the same article, Crooks said Trump forcibly kissed her when the two met in 2005. Holvey accused Trump of personally inspecting her and the other 2006 Miss USA candidates during a contest event that year.
“He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat, we were just sexual objects, that we were not people,” she told CNN in 2016. “You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling.”
Monday’s news conference was hosted by Brave New Films, a documentary production company that in November released a three-minute video called “16 Women and Donald Trump.” The video shares the stories of 16 women who have come forward with their experiences of Trump allegedly assaulting or harassing them.
Trump and his administration have denied these claims repeatedly.
Last year, a recording from 2005 surfaced in which Trump could be heard bragging about grabbing women “by the pussy.” Trump acknowledged that it was him on the tape but characterized the comments as “locker room talk.” More recently, he has reportedly suggested that the voice on the tape isn’t his ― even though, to be clear, it is.
U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Sunday that the women accusing Trump deserve to be heard.