Donald J. Trump issued an unusual videotaped apology early Saturday after a 2005 recording surfaced that showed him speaking in extraordinarily vulgar terms about women, setting off an uproar, including further defections, in the Republican Party.
“Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am,” he said. “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
The apology came as the presidential nominee faced extraordinary censure from Republican leaders after the tape was made public. The recording captures Trump speaking about pushing himself on women and boasting that he could get away with “anything” because of his celebrity.
In the three-minute recording, which was obtained by The Washington Post, Trump recounts to the television personality Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” how he once pursued a married woman and “moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there,” expressing regret that they did not have sex. But he brags of a special status with women: Because he was “a star,” he says, he could “grab them by the pu---” whenever he wanted.
“You can do anything,” Trump says.
He also said he was compulsively drawn to kissing beautiful women “like a magnet” — “I don’t even wait” — and talked about plotting to seduce the married woman by taking her furniture shopping. Trump, who was 59 when he made the remarks, went on to disparage the woman, whom he did not name, saying, “I did try and f--- her. She was married,” and saying, “She’s now got the big phony tits and everything.”
On Friday night, Speaker Paul D. Ryan withdrew an invitation for Trump to appear alongside him in Wisconsin this weekend. Ryan described himself in a statement as “sickened” by Trump’s remarks.
Hours before his video apology, Trump released a statement on Friday afternoon expressing regret “if anyone was offended” by his comments, but he tried to play down the tape as a snippet of “locker room banter.”
His running mate, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, telephoned Trump Friday night and urged him to show humility, according to an adviser to the nominee who requested anonymity to reveal a private conversation. (Trump had already decided to apologize when Pence called, the adviser noted.)
Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, issued a statement late Friday night calling on Trump to express contrition -- and possibly offering other Senate Republicans cover to disavow the nominee if he refused to apologize.
“As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape,” Mr. McConnell said.
While neither Ryan nor McConnell immediately withdrew formal support for Trump, Republican leaders in Washington held anguished discussions throughout the evening about how the party should proceed with a badly wounded and potentially toxic nominee.
They cannot remove their nominee from the ticket, it's too late to invoke Rule 9. But if Trump voluntarily dropped out, the party could proceed with selecting an alternative. Some Republican lawmakers have called on him to do just that, including Sen. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, who previously said he would not support Trump, and Reps. Mike Coffman of Colorado and Barbara Comstock of Virginia. Trump has said no way would he ever quit.
Both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S.Sen. Marco Rubio, two of Trump's primary rivals, publicly denounced Trump's remarks. Said Rubio, "Donald’s comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify.”
(Much of the above description of the situation came from The New York Times.)
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