Donald Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation caught on a hot microphone, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.
Late Friday night, following sharp criticism by Republican leaders, Trump issued a short video statement saying, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But he also called the revelation “a distraction from the issues we are facing today.” He 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,” Trump said.
In an apparent response to Republican critics asking him to drop out of the race, he said: “We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”
The tape includes audio of Bush and Trump talking inside the bus, as well as audio and video once they emerge from it to begin shooting the segment.
In that audio, Trump discusses a failed attempt to seduce a woman, whose full name is not given in the video.
“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it,” Trump is heard saying. It was unclear when the events he was describing took place. The tape was recorded several months after he married his third wife, Melania.
“Whoa,” another voice said.
“I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump says.
Trump continues: “And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”
“I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married,” Trump says. “Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.”
At that point in the audio, Trump and Bush appear to notice Arianne Zucker, the actress who is waiting to escort them into the soap-opera set.
“Your girl’s hot as s---, in the purple,” says Bush, who’s now a co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.
“Whoa!” Trump says. “Whoa!”
“I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump says. “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.”
“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.
“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
A spokeswoman for NBC Universal, which produces and distributes "Access Hollywood," declined to comment.
“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,” Trump said in a statement. “I apologize if anyone was offended.”
Billy Bush, in a statement released by NBC Universal, said: “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”
After the video appeared online Friday afternoon, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become president.” Her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), told reporters, “It makes me sick to my stomach,” while campaigning in Las Vegas.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund, which has endorsed Clinton, issued a statement from Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens saying: “What Trump described in these tapes amounts to sexual assault.”
Trump was also criticized by members of his own party. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who said he is “sickened” by Trump’s comments, said the Republican presidential candidate will no longer appear with him at a campaign event in Wisconsin on Saturday.
“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,” Ryan said in a statement.
In a short statement issued moments after Ryan’s, Trump said his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, “will be representing me” at the Wisconsin event.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who is running for reelection and has said she will vote for Trump, called his comments “totally inappropriate and offensive.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who has stood by Trump uncritically through numerous controversies, said in a statement: “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner. Ever.”
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Trump critic, said in a statement: “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the comments are “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance” and made clear Trump’s brief statement would not suffice.
“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,” he said late Friday.
One of Trump’s most prominent social-conservative supporters, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray: “My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values.”
Trump's running mate, Pence, was at a diner in Toledo when the news broke — about to view the diner's collection of signed cardboard hot-dog buns, which includes one signed by Trump. But the reporters traveling with Pence were quickly ushered out of the diner by campaign staff, before they could ask Trump's running mate about it, according to Politico. Politico reported that the journalists, traveling in Pence's "protective pool," were not permitted to film Pence as he left the diner.
The tape appears at a time when Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has sought to make a campaign issue out of his opponent’s marriage. Trump has criticized former president Bill Clinton for his past infidelity and criticized opponent Hillary Clinton as her husband’s “enabler.”
"Hillary Clinton was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics," Trump told the New York Times in a recent interview. "Hillary was an enabler, and she attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterward. I think it's a serious problem for them, and it's something that I'm considering talking about more in the near future."
Trump carried on a very public affair with Marla Maples — his eventual second wife — while still married to first wife Ivana Trump.
Trump has been criticized in this campaign for derogatory and lewd comments about women, including some made on TV and live radio. In an interview Wednesday with KSNV, a Las Vegas television station, Trump said that those comments were made for entertainment.
“A lot of that was done for the purpose of entertainment. There’s nobody that has more respect for women than I do,” he told the station.
"Are you trying to tone it down now?" asked the interviewer, Jim Snyder.
"It's not a question of trying, it's very easy," Trump said.
The tape obtained by The Post seems to have captured Trump in a private moment, with no audience beyond Bush and a few others on the bus. It appears to have been shot around Sept. 16, 2005, which was the day media reports said Trump would tape his soap-opera cameo.
The video shows the bus carrying Trump and Bush turning down a street on the studio back lot. The two men cannot be seen.
“Oh, nice legs, huh?” Trump says.
“Oof, get out of the way, honey,” Bush says, apparently referencing somebody else blocking the view of Zucker.
The two men then exit the bus and greet Zucker.
“We’re ready, let’s go,” Trump says, after the initial greetings. “Make me a soap star.”
“How about a little hug for the Donald?” Bush says. “He just got off the bus.”
“Would you like a little hug, darling?” Zucker says.
“Absolutely,” Trump says. As they embrace, and air-kiss, Trump says, “Melania said this was okay.”
The video then follows Trump, Bush and Zucker into the studio. Trump did appear on "Days of Our Lives" in late October. In a tape of that cameo posted online, Zucker's character asks Trump — playing himself — for a job at his business, and tells him suggestively, "I think you'll find I'm a very willing employee. Working under you, I think, could be mutually beneficial."
Trump’s character gives her the brushoff.
“That’s an interesting proposition,” Trump says on-screen. “I’ll get back to you.”
A publicist for Zucker did not immediately respond to questions on Friday afternoon.
Rosalind S. Helderman, Mike DeBonis, Jenna Johnson and Sarah Parnass contributed to this report.