WASHINGTON, D.C. — During last year’s hotly contested election in which Russia’s preferred candidate — alleged billionaire Donald Trump — defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a now infamous recording of Trump speaking to the host of Access Hollywood frankly and candidly about sexually harassing or even assaulting women was released just weeks before the election.
At the time, the “Grab ‘Em By The Pussy” tape was thought to be a real momentum shifting event in the election, and then just a few days later, former FBI Director James Comey dropped his bombshell on the country, saying his bureau was taking a fresh look at emails recovered from a Clinton aide that ultimately did not change the outcome of the previously closed investigation. At the time, Trump didn’t deny the veracity of the Access Hollywood recording at the time it was released, preferring instead to have his team explain it away as “locker room talk,” last week, President Trump decided to cast doubt on whether the tape was authentic.
As reported originally by The New York Times, Trump has begun privately questioning whether the tape that contains infamous sound bytes of him saying things like he “moved on her like a bitch,” and implying fame and fortune makes women succumb to sexual advances they might otherwise rebuff.
But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump. 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. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.) (NYT)
On the Hill, it was quickly determined that Trump’s sudden about-face on the Access Hollywood tapes was more about a desperate attempt to save the Senate seat Judge Roy Moore is fighting to keep for the Republicans down in Alabama. Moore, who has been rocked by several allegations that he preyed on teenage girls sexually in his twenties and thirties, has decided not to leave the race, despite pleas from the national party and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
This morning, Mr. Trump offered more insight into his questioning of the accuracy and authenticity of the Access Hollywood tapes, and offered a theory that connected his woes to Roy Moore’s that might not surprise very many people in his base.
“I believe, truly and bigly now, that a man named Benjamin Gozzi doctored and planted those Access Hollywood tapes in an effort to destroy Roy Moore’s chances,” Trump said emphatically. “They’re getting to him through me and to me through him. It’s obviously a Crooked Hillary scheme, and anyone with half a brain cell — no more than that — can see this conspiracy for what it is.”
Trump says that despite his decision to simply cast aside the tapes last year as private bragging between two men, he has come around to his new way of thinking, which he says is “sound, good, right, and proper.”
“It’s the only theory that makes any sense, really,” Trump said.
Current polling shows Moore in a dead heat with Democrat Doug Jones, though some polling even shows Moore behind.