Megyn Kelly has been doggedly covering the mounting accusations of sexual misconduct against public figures over the last few months, and on Monday morning, the Today host turned to none other than President Donald Trump.
Kelly was joined by three women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct during the 2016 election cycle: Jessica Leeds, who claimed Trump groped her on an airplane; Samantha Holvey, who described Trump inappropriately leering at her and other pageant contestants in a dressing room in 2006; and Rachel Cooks, who alleged Trump forcibly and repeatedly kissed her on the lips in Trump Tower before asking for her phone number.
“America is having a ‘Me Too’ moment, as men … are being outed and punished for sometimes decades of sexual misconduct,” Kelly said at the show’s beginning. “But does that accountability extend to the Oval Office?” Kelly noted that Senator Cory Booker has requested that Trump resign in the wake of the allegations, the White House’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the president’s accusers deserve to be heard, and at least 16 women have publicly accused the president of sexual misconduct.
“We’re private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there and try and show America who this man is, and especially how he views women — for them to say ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt,” Holvey said after Kelly introduced her and the other two women. “Now it’s just like, alright, let’s just try round two. The environment’s different. Let’s try again.” Of Inauguration Day in January, Holvey added, “It was just a tough day because the country said, ‘We don’t care that he’s like this.'”
Kelly then asked the three women to describe, again, their alleged encounters with Trump. Cooks, who worked in Trump Tower and saw him frequently because her office was near where he’d take the elevator to his residency, recalled her experience in great detail. “He shook my hand and gave me the normal double-cheek kiss, but then he held onto my hand and he kept kissing me,” Cooks said. “He kept … kissing me again and again … And then he kissed me on the lips. I was shocked. Devastated.” Days later, Cooks says Trump asked for her phone number, which she provided out of fear. “I was so uncomfortable and a little threatened, like I didn’t have a choice in agreeing to do that,” she said. “You feel like you have to say yes to [these] guys. You don’t want to be the nasty girl, the mean girl, who doesn’t comply and puts up a fight. I wish I had been stronger … Things would be a lot different now.”
Leeds, who was a traveling salesperson in the 1970s when Trump allegedly groped her, then described her encounter. She says a stewardess invited her to sit in First Class and that she was seated opposite Trump, whom she did not recognize as a public figure at the time. “All of a sudden, he’s all over me kissing and groping, and groping and kissing,” she said. “It was just this silent groping going on … When his hand started going up my skirt, I’m not a small person. I managed to wiggle out … and I went to the back of the airplane.” She admitted she didn’t tell anybody at the time: “I just thought, ‘Oh, that’s just some creep on an airplane.'”
The White House provided a statement to Megyn Kelly TODAY on Monday morning, after previously declining a request for comment. “These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory,” the statement read. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”
The statement was read live on air as it came in, to which Cooks reacted, “It’s laughable. I just recently read a comment about ‘If this happened in Trump Tower, they have to have security footage. Where is that?’ I’m like, ‘Yes, where is that? Let’s get that out,’ because I would love for that to be made public.”
Kelly asked the women about their current thoughts on Trump in light of the current climate, particularly with Trump stumping for Roy Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate who has been accused of sexually molesting and assaulting girls as young as 14 years old. (Moore denies the allegations.) “It gives me goosebumps,” Holvey responded. “Honestly, it gives me goosebumps whenever they say that … Where do we draw the line? Where do we draw the line as women coming together in this country saying, ‘No. We don’t want to be treated like that anymore. We no longer accept this. It’s happened long enough. No.’ When does that happen?”