The New York Times had the best rebuttal to Donald Trump’s claims of libel and call for retraction in a letter to the Republican presidential candidate’s lawyer, released on Thursday, October 13.
In the letter, written by New York Times VP and assistant general counsel David McCraw to Trump attorney Marc E. Kasowitz, the publication declines to acquiesce to the real estate mogul’s demands.
“Dear Mr. Kasowitz,” the letter begins. “I write in response to your letter of October 12, 2016 to Dean Banquet concerning your client Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States. You write concerning our article ’Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately’ and label the article as ‘libel per se.’ You ask that we ‘remove it from [our] website, and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology.’ We decline to do so.”
McCraw then goes on to school Kasowitz and the Trump team on the meaning of libel, pointing out that what the story that the Times ran does not qualify as a libelous piece.
“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation,” he continues. “Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a ‘piece of ass.’ Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”
On Wednesday, October 12, the Times ran a piece wherein two women came forward about separate encounters they’d had with Trump, 70, that they would characterize as sexual assault.
One woman, 74-year-old Jessica Leeds, alleged that the GOP nominee had once groped her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt while the two were seated next to each other on a flight to New York more than three decades ago.
“He was like an octopus,” she recalled. “His hands were everywhere. It was an assault.”
Another woman, Rachel Crooks, told the Times about a time when Trump had forcefully kissed her on the lips back in 2005 (the same year the presidential candidate told a giggling Billy Bush that it was OK to grab women “by the p–sy.”)
“It was inappropriate,” Crooks told the Times of the incident. “I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that.” When she called her sister immediately afterward and described what happened, her sister reportedly told her, “That is not normal.”
Trump flatly denied the claims Wednesday, and his senior communications advisor told Us in a statement: “This entire article is fiction, and for The New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous. To reach back decades in an attempt to smear Mr. Trump trivializes sexual assault, and it sets a new low for where the media is willing to go in its efforts to determine this election.”
In McCraw’s letter Thursday, the Times’ VP and assistant general counsel further denounced Trump’s attempt to shut down the story.
“The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance — indeed, an issue that Mr. Trump himself discussed with the whole nation watching during Sunday night’s presidential debate,” he wrote. “Our reporters diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts. They provided readers with Mr. Trump’s response, including his forceful denial of the women’s reports. It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices.”
McCraw ended his scathing letter with an invitation to the billionaire to take legal action if “he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished.”
“We welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight,” McCraw concluded the letter.
On Thursday, Trump gave a defiant speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, during which he once again called the women's allegations against him "outright lies."
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