Trump apologizes amid Republican uproar over his boasts about groping women

Donald Trump boasted crudely about groping women in a 2005 video recording made a few months after his marriage to Melania Trump, saying “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

The recording, obtained by the Washington Post and released Friday, features Trump making lewd comments about women and saying some let him grab them in the crotch.

The disclosure plunged Trump’s campaign into crisis as GOP leaders roundly condemned their party’s presidential nominee just a month before the election.

"No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan had planned to campaign with Trump on Saturday in his Wisconsin congressional district, but said Trump was no longer attending the event.

“I am sickened by what I heard today,” said Ryan, who has previously faulted Trump for making what he called racist comments about a Latino federal judge.

“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 is heard in the recording talking with Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” as they were riding a bus to the set of “Days of Our Lives” for a Trump cameo.

“I moved on her and I failed — I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying about a woman who was identified Friday by “Access Hollywood” as Nancy O’Dell, a former host of the show. Using a vulgar term, Trump says he tried to have sex with her and mentions that she was married at the time.

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Trump then talks about taking the woman furniture shopping in an attempt to seduce her.

“She wanted to get some furniture,” Trump says. “I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’” 

“I moved on her like a bitch, 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 tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”

It’s unclear from the recording whether he was already married to Melania Trump when he says these events occurred.

Trump released a terse statement when the Post published the story.

“This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

In a video he posted late Friday night on Facebook, Trump apologized again, but also dismissed the uproar as “nothing more than a distraction.”

“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,” said Trump, whose frequent derogatory comments about women have proved a major liability.

Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent, reacted on Twitter: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.”

For Trump, the timing of the recording’s release could hardly be worse: It came two days before a crucial debate in St. Louis — one of his last opportunities to shift public opinion and overcome Clinton’s persistent edge in the polls. Early voting has already begun in some battleground states.

Trump is struggling to improve his dismal standing among female voters. Clinton, who would be the nation’s first female president, was leading Trump among women 53% to 33% in a Quinnipiac poll released Friday.

To the dismay of fellow Republicans who fear he is hurting the party’s down-ballot candidates in the Nov. 8 election, Trump has been attacking Clinton for “enabling” her husband’s extramarital affairs.

Last weekend, Trump also accused Clinton of being disloyal to her husband, offering no evidence for the allegation.

In the 2005 recording, Trump boasts of how he likes to make advances on women.

“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,” he says. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”

He uses another vulgarity to describe how he gropes women in the crotch. “You can do anything,” he says.

Trump’s history of making derogatory remarks about women has dogged him for more than a year.

In the first GOP primary debate, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked him to explain why he’d called women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”

Angered by the question. Trump later called Kelly a bimbo and said she had “blood coming out of her wherever,” widely construed as a remark about menstruation.

Clinton and her allies have hammered Trump in television and radio ads for his caustic comments about women dating as far back as the 1980s. At their first debate last week in New York, Clinton castigated Trump for calling a Latina beauty pageant winner “Miss Piggy" and “Miss Housekeeping.”

Trump later criticized the woman and urged voters to check out a sex tape that she’d allegedly appeared in. There was no sex tape.

Earlier this week, Trump said some of his past comments about women were for purposes of "entertainment."

Bush, now a co-anchor on NBC’s “Today” show, released a statement saying he was “embarrassed and ashamed” by his conversation with Trump.

“It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along,” said Bush, a cousin of former President George W. Bush. “I’m very sorry.”

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

Twitter: @finneganLAT

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UPDATES:

10:25 p.m. This article was updated with Trump’s video apology.

7:05 p.m.: This article was updated with reaction from Republicans.

4:50 p.m.: This article was updated with changes.

This article was originally published at 3:50 p.m.

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