Donald Trump on Friday apologized for lewd comments that he made about women in 2005 but said that his "foolish" words are much different than the words and actions of Bill Clinton, whom he accused of abusing women, and Hillary Clinton, whom he accused of having "bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims."
"I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not. I've said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me knows these words don't reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize," Trump said in a brief video statement released late Friday night as a number of prominent Republicans distanced themselves yet again from their presidential nominee.
Trump said that the lewd comments -- which were made public by The Washington Post on Friday afternoon -- are "a distraction from the important issues we are facing today." He then attacked his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
"I've said some foolish things, but there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women, and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims," Trump said. "We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday."
Trump's statement comes more than eight hours after The Post reported a lewd conversation about women that Trump had in 2005 with Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood," that was caught by a hot microphone. During the conversation, Trump bragged about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, including a married woman, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after Trump married his third wife, Melania.
Trump on Friday afternoon confirmed that he engaged in the conversation and said in a statement: “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.”
On Friday night, a series of prominent Republicans denounced Trump's comments. GOP chairman Reince Priebus issued this brief statement: "No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever."
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan asked Trump not to attend a campaign event with him Saturday in his home state of Wisconsin, according to two people familiar with the discussions. Ryan and Trump did not speak personally on Friday, one of them said. Ryan said in statement late Friday that Trump “is no longer attending” a festival in Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional district.
“I am sickened by what I heard today,” Ryan said. “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified. I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”
Trump said in a statement that his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, “will be representing me” at the Wisconsin event while he remains in New York to prepare for Sunday’s town hall debate, with the help of Priebus, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump's comments are “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance" and called on Trump "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." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Trump to issue a “full and unqualified apology.”
In denouncing Trump's comments, these Republicans stopped short of withdrawing their support. But Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, retracted his endorsement of Trump after discussing the issue with his wife and deciding that Trump's comments were "intolerable."
Republican lawmakers who were already skeptical of Trump were quick to condemn him, and some of that faction went further. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who is running an uphill reelection race, called on Trump to drop out, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who represents a state where Trump performed poorly in the GOP primary, said he would no longer vote for him.
David Fahrenthold and Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.