Trump apologizes for lewd comments about women
After being caught on tape making shockingly crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce, Donald Trump declared in a midnight video, "I was wrong and I apologize." Yet he claimed the astonishing revelations amounted to "nothing more than a distraction" and argued his words were not nearly as egregious as former President Bill Clinton's marital affairs.
"I've said some foolish things," Trump said in a taped apology posted on his Facebook page. "But there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women."
Turning to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump accused her of having "bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated" her husband's "victims."
Trump's 90-second statement capped a jarring day that threatened to sink his presidential campaign and sent Republicans into a panic just over a month from Election Day.
On Friday afternoon, The Washington Post and NBC News released a 2005 video in which Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that "when you're a star, they let you do it.".
The video captures Trump talking with Billy Bush, then of "Access Hollywood," on a bus with the show's name written across the side. They were arriving on the set of "Days of Our Lives" to tape a segment about Trump's cameo on the soap opera.
The tape includes audio of Bush and Trump talking inside the bus, as well as audio and video once they emerge from it to begin shooting the segment.
In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.
"I moved on her, and I failed. I'll admit it," Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.
"Whoa," another voice said.
"I did try and f--- her. She was married," Trump says.
Trump continues: "And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, 'I'll show you where they have some nice furniture.'"
"I moved on her like a b----, but I couldn't get there. And she was married," Trump says. "Then all of a sudden I see her, she's now got the big phony t--- and everything. She's totally changed her look."
At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.
"Your girl's hot as s---, in the purple," says Bush, who's now a co-host of NBC's "Today" show.
"Whoa!" Trump says. "Whoa!"
"I've got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her," Trump says. "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," Trump says. "You can do anything."
"Whatever you want," says another voice, apparently Bush's.
"Grab them by the p---y," Trump says. "You can do anything."
Kirk: He should drop out
Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, tweeted his response to the tape: "DJT is a malignant clown -- unprepared and unfit to be president of the United States."
He later tweeted: "@realDonaldTrump should drop out. @GOP should engage rules for emergency replacement."
On Thursday, Trump said Kirk is "not doing so well" in his re-election bid against Democratic congresswoman Tammy Duckworth. He added, dismissively: "That's his problem."
Duckworth also tweeted a response to Trump's remarks from her campaign account: "Yet another example of @realdonaldtrump's disrespect toward women. Yet another reason he is unfit for the presidency."
"This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course -- not even close," Trump said in a statement. "I apologize if anyone was offended."
Billy Bush, in a statement released by NBC Universal, said: "Obviously I'm embarrassed and ashamed. It's no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago -- I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."
Trump was also criticized by members of his own party, including New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is running for re-election, and has said she will vote for Trump. "His comments are totally inappropriate and offensive," Ayotte said in a written statement.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who has stood by Trump uncritically through numerous controversies, said in a statement: "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever."
One of Trump's most prominent social-conservative supporters, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray: "My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values."House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said in statement late Friday that Trump "is no longer attending" a festival in Ryan's Wisconsin congressional district.
"I am sickened by what I heard today," Ryan said. "Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests."
Trump said in a statement that his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, "will be representing me" at the Wisconsin event while he remains in New York to prepare for Sunday's town hall debate, with the help of Priebus, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump's comments are "repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance" and called on Trump "to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Trump to issue a "full and unqualified apology."
In denouncing Trump's comments, these Republicans stopped short of withdrawing their support. But Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, retracted his endorsement of Trump after discussing the issue with his wife and deciding that Trump's comments were "intolerable."
Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was at a diner in Toledo when the news broke -- about to view the diner's collection of signed cardboard hot-dog buns, which includes one signed by Trump.
But the reporters traveling with Pence were quickly ushered out of the diner by campaign staff, before they could ask Trump's running mate about it, according to Politico. Politico reported that the journalists, traveling in Pence's "protective pool," were not permitted to film Pence as he left the diner.
The tape appears at a time when Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sought to make a campaign issue out of his opponent's marriage. Trump has criticized former president Bill Clinton for his past infidelity and criticized opponent Hillary Clinton as her husband's "enabler."
"Hillary Clinton was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics," Trump told The New York Times in a recent interview. "Hillary was an enabler, and she attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterward. I think it's a serious problem for them, and it's something that I'm considering talking about more in the near future."
Trump carried on a very public affair with Marla Maples -- his eventual second wife -- while still married to first wife Ivana Trump.
The tape obtained by The Post seems to have captured Trump in a private moment, with no audience beyond Bush and a few others on the bus. It appears to have been shot around Sept. 16, 2005, which was the day media reports said Trump would tape his soap-opera cameo.