President Donald Trump has denied the authenticity of the recording where he bragged about grabbing women by the genitalia — remarks he admitted making and apologized for just last year.
Discussing Trump’s continued support for disgraced Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, The New York Times reported over the weekend:
“He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently.”
A 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording released last year during Trump’s campaign reveals Trump as saying of women, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
Trump chalked the words up to “locker room banter” and insisted he would never actually do the things he described.
“I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them,” he said in a subsequent video apology. “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
In fact, Trump not only admitted to making the remarks; he compared his comments to the actions of former President Bill Clinton, in an attempt to smear then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
“I’ve said some foolish things, but there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.”
By apologizing and comparing words to actions, Trump acknowledged that the comments were real, the voice on the recording was his and the tape was authentic. It is therefore unclear why he is now questioning whether or not the tape was doctored. (Notably, according to a study released in October, one out of every seven Americans over the age of 70 suffer from dementia. Trump turned 71 on June 14.)
“Access Hollywood,” for its part, confirmed that the recording is in fact authentic.
“We wanted to clear something up that has been reported across the media landscape,” host Natalie Morales said on Monday. “Let us make this perfectly clear — the tape is very real. Remember his excuse at the time was ‘locker-room talk.’ He said every one of those words.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered no further clarity on the president’s confusion.
When asked if Trump still stood by the tape’s legitimacy Sanders said, “He’s made his position on that clear at that time.”
When asked about Trump’s 2016 apology versus his 2017 denial and if his position has changed, Sanders said, “The president hasn’t changed his position. I think if anything, what the president questions is the media’s reporting on that accurately.”
“Look, I said that he’d already addressed it and that we didn’t have any updates to that,” Sanders added. “I said what he didn’t like and what he found troubling were the accounts that are being reported now.”
Sanders did not specify what the “accounts that are being reported now” actually are.
On the 2005 recording, moments before Trump made the remark about groping women, he said, “I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her.”
The “her” Trump was referring to was actress Arianne Zucker, who gave Trump a tour of the “Days of Our Lives” set that same day.
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump continued.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday asked Zucker if she could confirm the tape’s authenticity.
Zucker said that she was not with Trump at the time he made the remarks but didn’t have any reason to believe it was fabricated.
“Whatever happened beforehand, I’m assuming you’re mic’d and it’s recording as you’re driving in,” she said. “I don’t know how else that could be fake, unless someone’s planting words in your mouth. That’s the only other way. And it is puzzling to me.”
“How do you apologize for something and then renege on it?” Zucker questioned.
“Let’s just take responsibility for ourselves and our actions,” she went on. “I really truly believe that if you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with the people around you, the repercussions are less because people go, ‘Wow.’ They appreciate your honesty and they’re gonna move forward with you instead of against you when you are constantly going back and forth.”