There is growing pressure for an investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against US President Donald Trump, with three of his alleged victims appearing on US television this morning and several senators calling for his resignation.
The renewed interest comes after Democratic Senator for Minnesota Al Franken resigned on Thursday after eight women publicly accused him of sexual assault, The Hill reports.
In his final speech to the senate, Franken professed his innocence – that he remembers the incidents differently – and said it’s “ironic” he is leaving while “Trump, a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and another man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party” – the latter example referring to Republican candidate for the senate seat of Alabama, Roy Moore.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman and Amelia Lester unpack the latest in he world of Trump. Post continues after audio.
Trump endorsed Moore at a Florida rally on Friday night despite several woman accusing the candidate of sexual misconduct, including one woman who says she was 14 when the abuse took place, Politico reports.
All this hypocrisy led to three women – Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks – appearing on several morning television programs as well as a live press conference, recounting their alleged experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of Trump and calling for an investigation into his behaviour.
“I would love to see CCTV footage of inside Trump tower the day he kissed me,” Crooks told Today host Megyn Kelly. “If they were willing to investigate Senator Franken, I think it’s only fair they do the same for Trump.”
Crooks was 22 when she introduced herself to Trump while working as a receptionist at Trump Tower in 2005. She alleges he shook her hand and kissed her on both cheeks, however he didn’t let her hand go and continued kissing her cheeks “over and over again”. She alleges he offered to find her modelling work, and then kissed her on the mouth forcefully and without her consent.
“Why is he immune to this?” Crooks asked while appearing on CNN New Day. “You can’t help but wonder why people aren’t talking about Trump and the people who’ve come forward against him.”
All three women - Crooks, Holvey and Leeds - took their allegations against the president public a year ago in an effort to prevent Trump's election. They are speaking out again now, saying they hope the #MeToo movement means the world is ready to see who Trump really is.
Holvey alleges Trump "treated her like a piece of meat" while she was competing for North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA pageant. "I didn't watch his inauguration. It was a tough day. It was like the whole country said 'meh, we don't care about this'.
She wants Trump to be held accountable.
"[I want] this President of the United States to be held accountable for his actions and that a new generation of women can fulfill their dreams without fear of anyone treating them like they are 'less than' because they're a woman," Holvey said in this morning's press conference hosted by Brave New Films.
WATCH: “Just looking me over like I was a piece of meat.” Samantha Holvey talks Trump looking her and other pageant contestants over in a dressing room in 2006 pic.twitter.com/GiFEJGDs7H
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 11, 2017
Leeds alleges Trump sexually assaulted her while on a flight in the 1980s. She doesn't want to take him to court - she knows it was so long ago - but she doesn't want him to get away with it, either.
"I was a travelling sales rep for a paper company - there were very few women travelling business [class] then," she told the press conference. "I was on my way back to New York and the stewardess came down the aisle and asked me if I'd like to come to First Class. This had happened before, it was not unusual."
Leeds was seated next to Trump.
"We had dinner and they cleared the dinner and, about that time, he jumped all over me," she said. "He had his hands on me and he was trying to kiss me. He hadn't said anything and I hadn't said anything. Then, he started to put his hand up my skirt and that was the last time I wore a skirt travelling. I managed to wrestle myself out of the seat. And went to the back of the plane and sat there until it landed."
Four years later, Leeds met Trump again at a fundraising event in New York City. He was there with his first wife, Ivana, and he approached Leeds.
"He said 'I remember you'," Leeds told Kelly on Today. "He said 'You're that c**t woman from the plane'."
WATCH: “He called me the worst name ever.” Jessica Leeds recalls meeting Trump a few years after alleged groping incident on plane pic.twitter.com/iSS21ATgQ9
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 11, 2017
Sixteen women in total have accused the President of sexual misconduct.
Every single woman has been labelled a liar by the White House - a defence that was echoed this morning when Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the allegations in a press briefing. "Is it the White House's official position that all these women are lying?" Sanders was asked.
"Yep we've been clear on that from the beginning and the president has spoken about it," she replied before moving on, as reported by CNN.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman and Amelia Lester take a look at the women who accused Trump of sexual harassment during the campaign. Post continues after audio.
As well as this, at the same time Leeds, Holvey and Crooks were talking to Kelly, the White House provided Today an official statement denying the allegations from the three women.
"These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgement by delivering a decisive victory," the statement read. "The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them."
— Megyn Kelly TODAY (@MegynTODAY) December 11, 2017
But Trump's alleged victims aren't the only ones calling for justice.
On Saturday night, New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker called on the president to resign over the allegations of sexual harassment that have been circulating for more than a year.
“I just watched Senator Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office," Booker told VICE News. "My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken."
Bernie Sanders, a Democratic senator who competed for the presidential nomination last year, has also asked for Trump to resign.
Finally, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has parted with the White House's official stance on the issue, telling CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday she thinks the "time has come" to "bring a conscience to the situation".
When asked about the accusations levelled against Trump, Haley said it was "the same thing" and "women who accuse anyone should be heard", AAP reports.
"I know that he was elected. But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them."