Less than two hours before thewas to begin, Donald Trump gave a brief statement Sunday night, surrounded by three of Bill Clinton’s past sexual assault accusers, an attempt to counter the unrelenting negative reaction to a .
Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey -- three women who have accused the former president of rape and sexual assault -- sat on either side of Trump at the table.
The one woman present not accusing Bill Clinton of sexual assault was Kathy Shelton, who as a young girl was allegedly raped by a 41-year-old man in Arkansas. Shelton’s accused rapist, a factory worker named Thomas Taylor, was defended by, when Clinton worked for a legal aid clinic for underprivileged defendants.
“Thank you very much for coming,” Trump told reporters gathered at a conference room in a St. Louis hotel Sunday night. “These four very courageous women have asked to be here and it was an honor to help them.”
The women then gave their own statements in front of cameras.
“I’m here to support Mr. Trump because he’s going to make America great again, and I think everybody else should vote for him,” said Jones, who once sued then-President Clinton for sexual harassment. “And I think they should all look at the fact that he is a good person he’s not what other people have been saying he’s being about Hillary so think about that.”
“I’m also here to support Trump. I, at 12-years-old -- Hillary put me through something that you [would] never [put] a 12-year-old through,” Shelton added. “She says she’s supposed to defend him. Whether they did it or not, now she’s laughing saying she knows they did it.”
Trump interjected after Shelton’s statement, saying “You went through a lot.”
“Yes, sir, I did,” Shelton responded.
“I’m here to support Donald Trump,” said Broaddrick. “I’ve tweeted recently and Mr. Trump retweeted it...Actions speak louder than words. Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me. And Hillary Clinton threatened me. I don’t think there’s any comparison.
“I am here to support Donald Trump,” Willey also said. Willey, a former White House volunteer aide, alleged in 1998 on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that Clinton had assaulted her. “The reason - the reason for that is the first day that he announced for president, he said ‘I love this country, and I want America to be great again.” And I cried, when he said that because I think that this is the greatest country in the world. I think that we can do anything. I think we can accomplish anything. I think you can bring peace to this world and I think Donald Trump can lead us to that. Thanks.”
According to a campaign spokesperson, all four women will also.
Trump’s event came after the Friday afternoon revelation of a tape recording from 2005 where the GOP nominee can be heard making lewd comments about his aggressive sexual advances towards women.
Trump posted the full video of the statement on Facebook an hour before the debate:
The Clinton campaign issued a statement immediately following Trump’s event.
“We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom,” Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Sunday night. “Hillary Clinton understands the opportunity in this town hall is to talk to voters on stage and in the audience about the issues that matter to them, and this stunt doesn’t change that. If Donald Trump doesn’t see that, that’s his loss. As always, she’s prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”