Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women, and 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations. This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment held a press conference Monday in New York, demanding that Congress take action. We speak with one of them: Samantha Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant for North Carolina when Trump owned the pageant. We are also joined by Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and we play an excerpt from the Brave New Films documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women. This is New York’s Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaking Monday on CNN.
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SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Senator Gillibrand joins Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden in calling on President Trump to step down. Meanwhile, 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women’s Working Group are also calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations against Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused President Trump of sexual harassment held a news conference in New York on Monday, demanding Congress take action. The women shared accounts in which they said Trump groped, fondled and forcibly kissed them. Monday’s news conference was held by Brave New Films, which released the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump in November.
JILL HARTH: He groped me. He absolutely groped me. And he just slipped his hand there, touching my private parts.
TEMPLE TAGGART: He turned to me and embraced me and gave me a kiss on the lips. And I remember being shocked and — because I would have just thought to shake somebody’s hand. But that was his first response with me.
JESSICA LEEDS: It was a real shock when all of the sudden his hands were all over me. But it’s when he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it. That was it.
KRISTIN ANDERSON: The person on my right, who, unbeknownst to me at that time, was Donald Trump, put their hand up my skirt. He did touch my vagina through my underwear.
LISA BOYNE: As the women walked across the table, Donald Trump would look up under their skirt and, you know, comment on whether they had underwear or didn’t have underwear. I didn’t want to have to walk across the table. I wanted to get out of there.
KARENA VIRGINIA: Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I felt intimidated, and I felt powerless.
MINDY McGILLIVRAY: Melania was standing right next to him when he touched my butt.
JESSICA DRAKE: When we entered the room, he grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission. After that, I received another call from either Donald or a male calling on his behalf, offering me $10,000. His actions are a huge testament to his character, that of uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement and being a sexual assault apologist.
SAMANTHA HOLVEY: I’m, you know, sitting there in my robe and having, you know, my makeup and hair done and everything, and he comes walking in. And I was just like, “Oh, my goodness!” Like what is he doing back here? I saw him walk into the dressing room.
TASHA DIXON: He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked. Waltzing in, when we’re naked or half-naked, in a very physically vulnerable position.
SUMMER ZERVOS: And he came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. He then grabbed my shoulder, and he began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast. And I said, “Come on, man. Get real.” He repeated my words back to me — “Get reeeeeal” — as he began thrusting his genitals.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s an excerpt from the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump. The women are now calling for a congressional investigation into sexual misconduct by President Trump. Last year, several Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign following the release of the 2005 videotape showing Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women.
Trump responded this morning on Twitter to the allegations, writing, quote, “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia — so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS!” he tweeted.
Well, for more, we’re joined by Samantha Holvey, former Miss North Carolina. She was a U.S. — Miss USA contestant in the pageant that Trump owned. She’s one of the 16 women who has accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, and she spoke out at the news conference on Monday.
Welcome, Samantha, to Democracy Now!
SAMANTHA HOLVEY: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you just — we just played the video, of which you’re a part. Can you talk about your experience of Donald Trump and then what he’s saying — “I don’t know them, I never met them”?
SAMANTHA HOLVEY: So, the first time I met Donald Trump, we were in New York City doing a media tour, all 51 of the Miss USA contestants. And we were at Trump Tower. They lined us all up, and so he could meet all of us. And I’m thinking this is going to be a meet and greet, you know, lots of eye contact. That was not the case at all. He walks by, and by every one of us, or at the very least me. He just looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat. There was no “Hi. How are you doing? Are you excited to be here?” None of that. I was just a piece of meat that was his property. And I thought, “Oh, goodness. I hope I never have to deal with him again. I don’t want to be around him.”
And then finals night rolls around. And I’m, you know, in hair and makeup. I’ve got curlers in my hair, nothing but a robe on. I’m just 20 years old. And he comes waltzing in to hair and makeup and is just looking around, not talking to us, asking us how we’re doing. And by the way, you know, Miss USA was not my first pageant. I’ve been — I’ve competed in other pageants. And the directors, no men were ever backstage. So this is not something that happens.
So, I see him walk in to hair and makeup, and he’s looking us all over. And then he waltzed right into the dressing room, where we have two big security guards making sure that nobody but female contestants and chaperones are allowed in there. But he walks right on in.
And to hear him talking about he’s never met any of us — you know, this is what happens every year. It wasn’t just 2006. He bragged about this on Howard Stern. And silly me, I should have been watching Howard Stern, because he bragged about it the year before I competed at Miss USA. So this was a known thing that he did. And so, it’s just amazing to call me a liar, when I’m just verifying his own words.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders responded to the allegations against Trump during Monday’s press briefing. This is what she said.
PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: As the president said himself, he thinks it’s a good thing that women are coming forward. But he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn’t determine the course. And in this case, the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses. And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president’s claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Samantha, your response to Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ statement? Also, you initially raised these allegations, as did many of the women, last year during the campaign. What’s the change now, the decision now to come to this press conference yesterday?
SAMANTHA HOLVEY: You know, it was a tough decision to come back out, because I did get a lot of backlash last year when I spoke out, and so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through all of that again. But when the — the idea was that all of us would come together, that all 16 women would come together, and seeing us as a group, seeing us there supporting each other, as well as telling our stories, there’s power in numbers. And that’s what I was just hoping, that maybe this year it would be different, since the climate is different.
AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday, I went to the news conference, Samantha. You were there, along with Jessica Leeds, a woman who says Donald Trump attacked her, sitting next to her in first class in a plane, groping her, until she got up and left. And this is Rachel Crooks, who also spoke at the news conference with you, who said Trump forcibly kissed her, against her will, in 2005.
RACHEL CROOKS: About 12 years ago, as a young receptionist in Trump Tower, I was forcibly kissed by Mr. Trump during our first introduction. Mr. Trump repeatedly kissed my cheeks, and ultimately my lips, in an encounter that has since impacted my life well beyond the initial occurrence, in feelings of self-doubt and insignificance I had.
Unfortunately, given Mr. Trump’s notoriety and the fact that he was a partner of my employers, not to mention the owner of the building, I felt there was nothing I could do. Given this hostile work environment, my only solution at the time was to simply avoid additional encounters with him.
I do realize that, in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse cases of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. But make no mistake: There is no acceptable level of such behavior.
That some men think they can use their power, position or notoriety to demean and attack women speaks to their character, not ours, which, believe me, is a tough lesson learned. In my case, I only felt the redemption of knowing it was not my own flaws to blame, when I read the account of Temple Taggart, whose story had so mirrored my own that I finally felt absolved of the guilt that I had somehow projected an image that made me an easy target. Instead, this was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: Rachel Crooks. Now, Donald Trump has just fired back this morning on tweet. Five senators have called for him to resign. He fired back at New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, after she joined the four other senators and at least 56 lawmakers in the House who have called for a congressional investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against him. This morning, Trump tweeted, “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”
I want to bring — I want to bring Cecile Richards into this conversation, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, CEO of the organization, as well. As you listen to Samantha and Rachel, some of the 16 women who have accused Donald Trump, and then see what he is tweeting today, attacking the senators, particularly the female senator, of the five —
CECILE RICHARDS: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: — who are calling for him to resign, with sexual innuendo in his tweet, your thoughts?
CECILE RICHARDS: Well, first, I just think Samantha is extraordinarily brave, and the other 15 women, because you can see now why women don’t come forward. I think, obviously, it’s time for an investigation of Donald Trump. And the fact that he is in fact going after women, I think, is going to embolden women. I mean, you know, as difficult as this is to experience, the outpouring of women now supporting each other and telling their stories is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, including women that we see at Planned Parenthood.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the impacts across the spectrum in terms of Washington itself, in terms of lawmakers now, as more and more calls for investigations of individual lawmakers are occurring.
CECILE RICHARDS: Right. Well, I think this is — I mean, the story that Amy refers to this morning of now women in Congress finally saying, who have been — you know, have basically suffered this kind of treatment for their entire careers, are now saying it’s time to investigate this, and holding people to a standard, is incredibly important. I don’t think any of us saw this happening. And ironically, I believe the president is actually encouraging more women to now stand up and come forward, particularly — and I’m sorry that he said this about Samantha — the fact that he’s actually saying that he doesn’t even know who these women are, trying to essentially erase them in every way. And it’s because women are saying “Enough” and standing with each other that I think we’re going to see change.