Donald Trump’s presidential campaign went into a tailspin Friday evening when audio leaked of the GOP nominee making vulgar comments about women with host Billy Bush during a 2005 taping of Access Hollywood.
Sounding like a character written by Joe Eszterhas, the recently married Trump brags to a Salacious Crumb-like Billy Bush about his failure to sleep with a married woman after taking her furniture shopping.
“I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married… And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping… I moved on her like a bitch. I couldn’t get there. I couldn’t get there, and she was married,” Trump told a disturbingly giddy Bush.
Access Hollywood would later identify the married woman as former anchor Nancy O’Dell. In 2007, Trump also unsuccessfully attempted to have a then-pregnant O’Dell fired as host of that year’s Miss USA beauty pageant.
The majority of Trump’s comments (and Bush’s snickering) were captured by a hot mic on a bus arriving to the Days of Our Lives set, where Trump was scheduled to film a guest appearance.
You can imagine how classy it got when both men saw soap star Arianne Zucker, awaiting their arrival on the studio backlot.
“Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit! In the purple,” Bush excitedly exclaims.
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful- I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait,” Trump tells Bush.
Before leaving the bus, Trump utters the most graphic line in the footage:
“And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
By the end of their conversation, Trump is no longer bragging about sexual conquests… he’s bragging about sexual assault.
The leaked footage and specifically the detail of the Tic Tacs, inspired a friend of CNN anchor Erin Burnett to come forward to share her own encounter with Trump in 2010.
Burnett read her unnamed friend’s message on air:
“Trump took a Tic Tac, suggesting I take them also. He then leaned in, catching me off guard, and kissed me almost on the lips. I was freaked out.”
On Friday night, Trump’s initial statement was far from an apology:
“This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”
No, bragging about sexual assault is not “locker room banter.” Honestly, Trump likely hasn’t been in a locker room for years.
Trump’s deflection to attacking Bill Clinton simply shows his lack of taking responsibility for his own actions. It’s a poor decision he would repeat in his taped apology that would be released hours later.
Trump’s ninety-second “apology” was accurately described by former Obama advisor David Axelrod as being delivered “with all the sincerity of a hostage reading a scripted video.”
Trump further writes off his offensive comments as “nothing more than a distraction” and then proceeds to use the last twenty-five seconds to attack Hillary Clinton.
Noticeably absent in this statement were apologies to Nancy O’Dell and Arianne Zucker.
Any hope by establishment Republicans of Trump dropping out of the race were quickly dashed when the real estate mogul told the Wall Street Journal on Saturday that there is “zero chance I’ll quit.”
What can the GOP do? Nothing. At this point, Trump can not be removed from the ticket by the party. Trump would have to drop out of the race, which would allow the party to enact rule 9 of the RNC rules.
Under rule 9, the RNC could select a new presidential nominee via a vote among committee members. Even if it were to happen, early voting has already begun in multiple states and those votes for Trump would not retroactively benefit a new GOP candidate. In a nutshell: the GOP is fucked.
This latest recording is not a shocking departure from the Trump we know. This is a man who has made attacking women and minorities the base of his short political career.
High profile Republican supporters such as Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte finally rescinding their support of Trump appears more like a desperate action of self-preservation rather than genuine disgust.
For over a year, Trump has normalized white nationalism. Now he epitomizes rape culture.