BANGOR, Maine — Before his Saturday rally in Bangor, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump privately told supporters that sexual misconduct allegations from “liars” could work “to our benefit” in the campaign.
The comments were recorded by progressive activist Wells Lyons of Portland, who provided the video to the Bangor Daily News. Lyons said he went to the rally to protest, but he was able to get into a question-and-answer session with the New York billionaire ahead of his speech at the Cross Insurance Center by agreeing to work for a phone bank on behalf of Trump.
The remarks provide a rare look at Trump privately talking to supporters. They show that Trump’s main talking points in private didn’t differ much from his later speech, in which he lashed out at “a rigged system” stacking the election against him, including media he said are working to elect Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The Bangor rally came just over a week after the release of a 2005 tape in which he said “when you’re a star,” you can “do anything” to women, including grabbing their genitals. That recording prompted a wave of new misconduct claims against Trump from more than 10 women.
He has denied them, but they threaten his campaign, which is now nearly 7 percentage points behind Clinton in the latest Real Clear Politics average.
In the private session, Trump said many around him have told him not to mention the allegations because they don’t believe it and “it doesn’t matter.”
“To me, it matters. I don’t want to mention it for a whole speech, but I want to mention it for a paragraph,” Trump said. “These are liars. This stuff never happened and people are finding out that it didn’t happen and I think it could actually inure to our benefit.”
Referring to his accusers, Trump went on to say that it’s “disgraceful that they’re allowed to say it” — referring to the claims of sexual misconduct — and said he expects “a backlash against the media and against Clinton,” predicting improved polling numbers and a good debate performance on Wednesday.
In one exchange, Trump refers to an allegation that he touched a woman “in a bar” — though he said he does not drink — in 1992. It may be a reference to a woman who told the Washington Post that he allegedly touched her genitals in a nightclub in the early 1990s.
During the private talk, Trump also appeared to sarcastically mime touching a woman. He noted that he doesn’t drink or sit alone, then made a noise while miming a chest-level poke.
“Give me a break,” Trump continued. “These are liars.”