UPDATE 2:15: A seething and outraged Donald Trump, at a rally in West Palm Beach, attacked the press Thursday for reporting accusations by a slew of women who say they were victims of the billionaire’s unwanted sexual advances.
The Republican presidential nominee’s appearance at the South Florida Fairgrounds was the first time he addressed the new accusations by four women — two of whom claim they were groped by him at his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago.
He called the reports in The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times, and People magazine as “pure fiction and outright lies” and said the stories were a coordinated effort between the media and his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“The most powerful weapon employed by the Clinton political machine is the corporate media, the press,” Trump said. “For them, nothing at all is out of bounds.”
Trump attacked “dishonest reporters” and vowed to “rise above the smears and ludicrous slanders.”
Before Trump took the stage, first lady Michelle Obama at another rally in New Hampshire gave a blistering speech against Trump, noting the Republican nominee bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone on “Access Hollywood.
“When you are a star, they let you do it,” Trump says on the audio tape. At the debate with Clinton on Sunday, Trump wrote off the audio as “locker room talk.”
The first lady said, “This is disgraceful. This is intolerable” and said Trump’s excuse was “an insult to decent men.”
“This wasn’t locker room banter,” she said.
Trump told the raucous crowd in West Palm Beach that the media coverage of his accusers’ claims was an effort to destroy his anti-establishment populist movement. “I take all these slings and arrows gladly for you,” he said.
But Trump also said the stories were taking a personal toll. “I will not lie to you , these false attacks are absolutely hurtful,” the real estate mogul said. “It is reprehensible beyond description. It’s totally corrupt.”
Maria Vitale, 46, of Loxahatchee, was in attendance at the rally and said she didn’t outright disbelieve the stories of Trump’s accusers, but she didn’t care either.
“I’ve been inappropriately fondled and grabbed by men? Men are men, I don’t care,” said Vitale, whose T-shirt was emblazoned with the slogan,”Finally, a candidate with balls.”
“To come out at this time, you just want attention. Whether it’s true or not,” she said.
The Palm Beach Post in an exclusive this week reported that Mindy McGillivray said Trump groped her 13 years ago while she was at his Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago.
Trump did not address the Post’s story specifically at the rally.
People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff also came forward to say she was also attacked by Trump at Mar-a-Lago during an interview about his wife, Melania.
Trump said he spoke to Stoynoff in a public place at Mar-a-Lago with “people all over the place.”
“This invented account has already been debunked by eye-witnesses,” Trump said but did not give any details.
The New York Times has a separate story detailing the stories of two other women about unwanted sexual advances by Trump in the early 2000s, including one who said the billionaire tried to put his hand up her skirt. Lawyers with the Trump campaign demanded an immediate retraction and threatened to sue the newspaper.
Trump said that the Times did not check out the stories of the women. “These events never happened,” he said.
The current firestorm engulfing Trump occurred after the “Access Hollywood” audio surface. Trump apologized but then during the debate wrote off the controversy “locker room talk.”
Mindy McGillivray told The Post Thursday morning that she stands by her accusations, which the Trump campaign has denied.
“I’ve had a hard time getting sleep,’’ she told The Post, adding she noticed TV trucks outside her home last night and this morning.
McGillivray denied suggestions they’ve heard on media shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign asked her to go forward with her story. She told The Post she decided on her own to go forward because she said Trump lied during the debate.
It’s important “to set a good example for my daughter,’’ she told The Post. “It’s a respect issue for all women. If something like this happens to you, you should speak up.’’
Fort Lauderdale Attorney Adam Horowitz knows how hard it is for victims of sexual assault – be it rape or unwanted kissing and groping – to come forward.
But it was the last straw when they saw Trump during Sunday’s debate deny he ever forced himself on woman despite audio tape of him bragging about it. Trump had to be forced to answer the question by the moderator CNN’s Anderson Cooper.