During a stump speech on Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump denied recent allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women, including a former PEOPLE reporter.
“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,” said the Republican presidential nominee while speaking in West Palm Beach, Florida. “These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies. These events never ever happened.”
Trump was responding to several claims of misconduct that came out this week, including one from former PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff, who wrote Trump allegedly kissed her without consent during an interview in 2005. The New York Times also reported two women had come forward with similar stories of Trump touching them inappropriately and without consent.
During the speech, Trump claimed that he had “substantial evidence” to combat the Times‘ report and that he is preparing a lawsuit against the paper. He also questioned why Stoynoff didn’t include her claims in the story she wrote about him and Melania 12 years ago when she covering their one-year wedding anniversary.
“I was one of the biggest stars on television with The Apprentice and it would’ve been one of the biggest stories of the year,” said Trump, echoing a statement his representative sent PEOPLE after the column was published. “Look at her, look at her words, you tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”
He continued, “These people are horrible people. They’re horrible, horrible liars, and interestingly, it happens to appear 26 days before our very important election. This invented account has already been debunked by eyewitnesses, who were there. They were there. The very witness identified by the author said the story was totally false.”
Trump added he felt these claims are part of a conspiracy perpetrated by his presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, Bill Clinton, to stop him from winning. “The most powerful weapons deployed by the Clintons is the corporate media, the press,” he said. “Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price no matter how many lives they destroy.”
In response to Trump’s statements following the revelations, PEOPLE editor-in-chief Jess Cagle released a statement standing by Stoynoff’s story.
“We are grateful to Natasha Stoynoff for telling her story. Ms. Stoynoff is a remarkable, ethical, honest and patriotic woman, and she has shared her story of being physically attacked by Donald Trump in 2005 because she felt it was her duty to make the public aware,” Cagle said.
“To assign any other motive is a disgusting, pathetic attempt to victimize her again. We stand steadfastly by her, and are proud to publish her clear, credible account of what happened.
“It is heartbreaking that her fear of retaliation by Trump kept her from reporting the incident when it happened. She has carried this secret for more than a decade, and we hope that by coming forward now she is relieved of that burden.”