Donald Trump held a brief press availability with three women who’ve accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct shortly before the second presidential debate kicked off Sunday night in St. Louis.
Trump appeared alongside Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey, in addition to Kathy Shelton, a woman who was involved in a rape case as a child in which Hillary Clinton defended the accused rapist.
Each women gave a brief statement about why they were supporting Trump and their negative experiences with the Clintons. The press conference was streamed live on Trump’s Facebook page. It was an effort to diminish Trump’s negative image with women after a 2005 tape surfaced Friday of Trump bragging to an “Access Hollywood” host about how, because he was famous, he could do anything he wanted to women, including “grab them by the pussy.”
“Thank you for coming and these four very courageous women have asked to be here,” Trump said, opening the statements. “It was our honor to help them. I think they want to make an individual short statement, and then we’ll have a little meeting. We’ll see you at the debate. Perhaps we’ll start with Paula.”
“I’m here to support Mr. Trump,” Jones said. “He’s going to make America great again and I think everybody else should vote for him and I think they should all look at the fact that he is a good person. He’s not what other people have been saying he’s been like Hillary. So, think about that.”
“I’m also here to support Trump,” Shelton said. “At 12 years old, Hillary put me through something that you should never put a 12-year-old through. She says she’s for women and children. She was asked last year what happened, and she said she’s supposed to defend whether they did it or not. She laughed on tape, saying she knows they did it.”
“You went through a lot,” Trump said to Shelton.
“Yes sir, I did,” she agreed.
“I’m Juanita Broaddrick, and I’m here to support Donald Trump,” Broaddrick said. “I tweeted recently, and Mr. Trump retweeted it, that actions speak louder than words. Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there is any comparison.”
“I’m Kathleen Willey, and I am here to support Donald Trump. The reason — the reason for that is the first day that he announced for president, he said, I love this country, and I want America to be great again,” Willey said. “And I cried when he said that because I think this is the greatest country in the world. I think that we can do anything. I think we can accomplish anything. I think we can bring peace to this world, and I think Donald Trump can deliver us to that point.”
After each of the women gave their statements on their experiences with the Clintons, a reporter asked Trump if he had ever touched a woman without her consent. Trump did not answer, but Jones jumped in and turned the conversation back to Bill Clinton.
“Why don’t you ask Bill Clinton that?” she retorted. “Why don’t you ask Hillary Clinton that?”
Prominent members of Trump’s team were in attendance at the presser, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, adviser Ben Carson and his wife Candy Carson, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and advisor Steve Miller, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The panel comes after many Republican lawmakers withdrew their support of Trump on Saturday, as the GOP nominee faced serious fallout from the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape in which he made predatory statements about soap opera actress Arianne Zucker and bragged about his entitled treatment of women.
The Trump campaign confirmed to NBC News’s Ali Vitali that all four women would be in the hall at Washington University in St. Louis for the debate.
The Clinton campaign released a statement condemning the presser, calling it “destructive.”
“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri wrote. “Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that. If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”
This post has been updated.