In a recent press conference, President Donald Trump defended Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh from allegations of sexual misconduct and made claims about some of Trump’s own accusers that were false or lacked evidence.
- Trump said, “I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me.” Two women told the Hill that their lawyer, Lisa Bloom, either arranged or attempted to arrange financial payments for them, but the paper reported that she “never asked them to make any statements or allegations except what they believed to be true.”
- Trump then claimed another woman told a “total phony story” about being attacked by him “while people were coming onto the plane.” Actually, Jessica Leeds said Trump groped her about 45 minutes into the flight, when the two were sitting in first class.
Trump made those claims in a press conference in New York on Sept. 26. He said his opinions of the allegations against Kavanaugh have been shaped by personal experience. “Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me,” Trump said.
Trump’s Accusers Were Paid to ‘Make Up Stories’?
Trump claimed that “four or five women” who have accused him “got paid a lot of money to make up stories.” There’s no evidence of that.
Trump, Sept. 26: I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them, and the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it.
There were four women, and maybe more — I think the number is four or five. But one had a mortgage paid off her house, $52,000. Another one had other things happen. And the one that reported it, I believe, was offered $750,000 to say bad things about me — and she is the one that reported it. This woman is incredible. She reported it, instead of taking the money.
Trump appears to be referring to a story, first reported by the Hill, in December 2017, about payments California-based attorney Lisa Bloom acknowledged arranging for two of her four clients who accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault. (At least 18 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, according to Time.)
But the article didn’t say the women were asked to “make up stories” about Trump in exchange for money, as the president said. In fact, the Hill reported that the two women “stressed that Bloom never asked them to make any statements or allegations except what they believed to be true.”
In one case, Bloom set up a GoFundMe account that aimed to raise $10,000 — but has so far only collected around $2,600 — to help support Jill Harth, a client who alleged that Trump groped her in 1992 and again in 1993. “She endured a tidal wave of hate for it,” Bloom said in a statement to the Hill. “It was very painful for her. And as a New York City makeup artist, Jill lost jobs after she came out publicly against Donald Trump. I believed that people wanted to donate to help her, so we set up the GoFundMe account.”
The Hill reported that Bloom also secured for Harth “a small payment from the licensing of some photos to the news media,” and arranged for an unidentified donor to pay off the mortgage on Harth’s apartment in Queens. The amount for the mortgage “was under $30,000,” according to the article, not $52,000, as Trump claimed.
The Hill said that Harth spoke publicly about Trump’s alleged harassment only after her name and the details of the 1997 lawsuit she filed against him surfaced in news reports during the summer before the 2016 election. The fact that Harth filed suit in 1997 undercuts Trump’s claim now that she was paid to make up stories about him. “She asked Bloom to represent her in the fall after hearing Trump describe her allegations against him as false,” the paper said.
“Nothing that you’ve said to me about my mortgage or the Go Fund Me that was created to help me out financially affects the facts or the veracity of my 1997 federal complaint,” Harth said in a statement to the Hill.
In the other case, a woman who requested to remain anonymous told the Hill that Bloom said she could get as much as $750,000 for “going public with an allegation of an unsolicited advance by Trump on the 1990s beauty contest circuit.” That was actually much lower than the $2 million the woman had requested, citing concerns for her safety, Bloom said. (The woman didn’t dispute the claim that she asked for $2 million. The Hill said she acknowledged trying to see how much she could get or discover who was donating the money.)
The woman actually supported Trump in 2016, and said “she held no resentment about the early 1990s advance because Trump stopped it as soon as she asked him,” the Hill said.
She had been contemplating sharing her story about Trump in order to support her friend Harth, who had put her in contact with Bloom’s law firm. She changed her mind several times about coming forward, but ultimately decided not to go public with her accusation. She later approached the Hill with information about Bloom’s financial offers after she learned that Bloom had been representing disgraced film executive Harvey Weinstein, who also has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
Furthermore, it isn’t exactly accurate that “mainstream media refused to put” the story on TV, or “even write about it,” as Trump claimed.
Perhaps no news outlet gave the story as much time as conservative commentator Sean Hannity did on his Fox News Channel show on Dec. 15, 2017. But ABC News did air a segment featuring Bloom’s response to the Hill’s report on the weekend edition of “Good Morning America” on Dec. 16, 2017. The New York Times also included some details about Bloom attempting to arrange payments for clients in a Dec. 31, 2017, story about how “political partisans” on the left and right were “raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support accusers who come forward with charges against President Trump and members of Congress, even amid questions about their motivation.”
That Times story mentioned that women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who is Bloom’s mother, also raised money for her then-client Summer Zervos, who alleged that Trump kissed and groped her without consent on separate occasions in New York and Los Angeles. Zervos competed on Trump’s old reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”
Her defamation lawsuit against Trump, who called her allegations lies, is still ongoing. Earlier this month, lawyers for Trump and Zervos agreed their clients would provide sworn answers to written questions by Sept. 28.
In Plain Sight?
Trump said another woman told a “total phony story” about how he “attacked her while people were coming onto a plane.” That’s not how she described the assault.
Trump: It’s happened to me many times. I’ve had many false charges; I had a woman sitting in an airplane and I attacked her while people were coming onto the plane. And I have a number-one bestseller out? I mean it was total phony story. There are many of them.
In October 2016, Jessica Leeds told the New York Times that Trump “grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt,” according to the paper. She said this happened over three decades earlier, when she was sitting next to Trump in first class on a flight to New York.
She never claimed it happened as “people were coming onto the plane,” as Trump said. According to the article, the alleged incident happened around 45 minutes into the flight. She alleges Trump moved the armrest and then touched her, causing her to run to the back of the plane. The Times said it spoke with four other people with whom Leeds had shared her story.
Trump’s campaign later offered its own witness, Anthony Gilberthorpe, who said he saw Leeds and Trump interacting on the plane and that Trump did not make sexual advances on her. “It was she that was the one being flirtatious,” Gilberthorpe said, according to a note the Trump campaign provided to the New York Post.
In his press conference, Trump suggested he would never have done what Leeds described because he had “a number-one best-seller out” at the time. But Gilberthorpe claimed he was on the flight with Trump and Leeds in 1980 or 1981. Trump’s first book, “The Art of the Deal,” which he wrote with journalist Tony Schwartz, wasn’t published until 1987.