Donald Trump categorically denied multiple allegations of sexual assault Thursday, blaming the media and arguing that rival Hillary Clinton is systematically trying to destroy him.
Speaking in West Palm Beach, Florida, Trump argued that stories in the New York Times and People magazine were “pure fiction” and “outright lies” created to undermine his campaign. He also argued that he had “substantial evidence” to dispute them that he will make public later.
“These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false. And the Clintons know it, and they know it very well,” he said. “These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction, and they’re outright lies. These events never, ever happened.”
Reading off a Teleprompter at his Thursday rally, Trump barely contained his anger as his unleashed a series of allegations of his own, claiming that the media is coordinating with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in an attempt to ruin his candidacy.
Trump responded to two allegations directly during his speech. Of Jessica Leeds, who told the Times that Trump grabbed her breasts on an airplane, Trump said: “Another ridiculous tale, no witnesses, no nothing.” And of People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who said Trump pushed her up against a wall and kissed her without her consent while she was writing a profile, Trump seemed to imply that her looks prove he would not have wanted to kiss her.
“Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think,” he said. “I don’t think so.”
Trump also argued that the news media is not objective, characterizing it as a “special interest” seeking to maintain its own privileged position at the expense of average Americans.
“The most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons is the corporate media, the press. Let’s be clear on one thing: the corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism,” he said. “They’re a political special interest … and their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy. For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds.”
“They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family,” Trump continued. “They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. they will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that. They will do whatever is necessary.”
The Republican nominee then focused his ire on one publication in particular: The New York Times. (The Times published two sexual assault allegations against Trump Wednesday, as well as another piece in May that included other examples of alleged inappropriate contact between Trump and women). Trump said he is currently preparing a lawsuit against the newspaper, and threw in some insults as well: “The New York Times is fighting desperately for its relevance and its financial survival,” he said.
Trump’s campaign demanded a retraction from the newspaper on Wednesday. The Times responded to the cease and desist letter, writing that the reporters “worked diligently to confirm the women’s accounts,” and, “We did what the law allows; we published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern. If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”
But after getting specific with the New York Times, Trump brought his Florida speech back to broader election themes. Tying the Clinton family to the media allowed Trump to continue hammering an idea he’s been teeing up before a potential loss on November 8: that the entire American political system is rigged against him and his supporters.
“This is a conspiracy against you, the American people,” he said.