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Trump camp shows signs of fracture over sexual misconduct allegations

Key surrogates are diverging in their support for the Republican nominee after nine women have accused him of unwanted touching or kissing

Signs of a split in the Trump campaign over allegations of sexual misconduct emerged on Sunday, as key surrogates diverged in their support for the candidate and the way he has responded.

I believe my friend Donald Trump when he tells me he didnt do it, said Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and a top adviser to the nominee, on CNNs State of the Union.

He conceded, however, that he could not speak to the particulars of every allegation, which range from a sexual assault lawsuit to aggressive groping to nonconsensual kisses and barging in on beauty pageant contestants while they changed. I havent been able to focus on every single [allegation], he said.

The former House speaker Newt Gingrich expressed frustration with Trumps reaction to the allegations, telling ABCs This Week: I think its stupid.

A week ago, the Washington Post published a leaked 2005 recording, from the NBC show Access Hollywood, in which Trump boasted about making unwanted advances to women. At the second presidential debate last Sunday, he denied ever having done what he bragged about, insisting it had merely been an example of locker room talk.

Nine women have since accused the Republican nominee of unwanted touching or kissing. The ninth, Cathy Heller, told the Guardian on Saturday Trump grabbed me and went for my mouth and went for my lips.

Trump has denied all the claims, and also called his accusers horrible, horrible liars and, in some cases, demeaned their physical appearance. Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you, he said of one woman on Friday.

I believe Donald Trump, Giuliani said on Sunday. I dont know the nine women, I dont know the case, Im not going to engage in Clinton-type conduct and attack them.

He did, however, question the credibility of two of the women who have come forward, including Jessica Leeds, who spoke to the New York Times. Some of these things appear to be on their face to be kind of untrue, Giuliani said, [such as] 15 minutes of groping in first class on an airplane.

A self-professed witness emerged on Friday to question the claims by Leeds, which relate to alleged events on a flight in the early 1980s. Reports in the UK have in turn questioned the character and background of the British witness, Anthony Gilberthorpe, a 54-year-old former conservative activist.

You dont pick who the witnesses are, Giuliani said. This mans come forward on his own and said its not true.

Gloria Allred, an attorney for a Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who has accused Trump, held a press conference later on Sunday to answer his attacks against her client and the other women.

Mr Trumps terrible smear campaign has been aimed at these brave women because they had the courage to come forward and reveal what they claim he did to them, Allred said in a statement, after his own words condemned him.

Allred also had Ann Russo, a social worker and friend of Zervos, come forward with a public statement that she heard Zervos story in 2010, long before Trumps presidential campaign.

Summer told me that he was verbally, physically, and sexually aggressive with her and that she had rebuffed his advances, Russo said, adding that her friend had felt conflicted and believed, at the time, that Mr Trump knew he made a mistake.

Before the presidential debate in St Louis last Sunday, Trump held a press conference with three women who are critical of Hillary Clinton for her conduct toward accusers of her husband and one who was the alleged victim in a 1975 rape trial in which Clinton represented one of the accused.

Should we be beyond that now? Giuliani asked, on CNN. Should we beyond Hillary Clintons past, Donald Trumps past?

Gingrich also voiced frustration. He said he saw a big Trump and a little Trump. The Big Trump is a historic figure, he said, who is creating issues that make the establishment very uncomfortable.

The Little Trump frankly gets out is stupid. I mean, that comment just then is dumb. And I dont defend him when he wanders off. Ive told him over and over. You know, presidents have to be disciplined, and in that sense Hillary is probably better trained to be president, just because shes the most corrupt person to ever get the nomination of a major party.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/16/trump-campaign-supporters-sexual-misconduct-allegations-women

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