The Slatest

Three Trump Accusers Cite Anderson Cooper Debate Question in Coming Forward

Debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz on Sunday.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

CNN has taken a great deal of deserved criticism during this election cycle for covering Donald Trump’s candidacy in soft, hyperbolic fashion and employing his stooges as analysts. It’s ironic, then, that the moment that sent Trump’s campaign into what is looking at this moment like a terminal tailspin involved tough questions being asked by a CNN anchor.

The anchor in question is Anderson Cooper, and the moment took place during Sunday night’s debate, when Cooper asked Trump about the leaked Access Hollywood video on which he seemed to boast about kissing and groping women without their consent. Cooper refused to let Trump off the hook until he answered the question of whether he’d physically committed any assaults in the manner he described. The video:

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The transcript:

COOPER: Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?

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TRUMP: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

COOPER: So, for the record, you’re saying you never did that?

TRUMP: I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

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TRUMP: And women have respect for me. And I will tell you: No, I have not.

As BuzzFeed’s Mark Schoofs pointed out Wednesday night, three of the women who’ve just come forward with stories of being groped or kissed by Trump without their consent cited this exact moment in describing their decision to speak publicly. From the New York Times:

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When Mr. Trump denied having ever sexually assaulted women, in response to a question from Anderson Cooper of CNN, Ms. Ross said she immediately looked at [Jessica] Leeds in disbelief. “Now we know he lied straight up,” Ms. Ross recalled saying.

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In the days after the debate, Ms. Leeds recounted her experience in an email to The Times and a series of interviews.

From a People magazine story by Natasha Stoynoff:

“Just for the record,” Anderson Cooper asked Donald Trump, during the presidential debate last Sunday, “are you saying…that you did not actually kiss women without (their) consent?”

“I have not,” Trump insisted.

I remember it differently.

And from the Palm Beach Post:

That changed Sunday night. Donald Trump was asked during the presidential debate about when he bragged that he kissed women without their consent and grabbed their genitals – remarks captured on audio that surfaced last week.

Trump apologized for the remarks and dismissed them as “locker room talk.” But the debate moderator, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, asked Trump to clarify: “Have you ever done those things?”

“No, I have not,’’ Trump replied.

Watching at home in Palm Springs, [Mindy] McGillivray said she rose from her couch and yelled at the TV screen: “‘You liar!’’’

CNN being itself, of course, responded to this moment of triumph by giving several Trump stooges airtime to spew inane, baseless attacks on the candidate’s accusers. You win some, you lose some.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign. 

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