Watch Donald Trump’s taped apology in response to leaked audio of his sexually explicit remarks about groping women
Trump had earlier shrugged off the leaked tape as ‘locker room banter’
After being caught on tape making shockingly crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce, Donald Trump declared in a midnight video: “I was wrong and I apologise.” Yet he claimed the astonishing revelations amounted to “nothing more than a distraction” and argued his words were not nearly as egregious as former President Bill Clinton’s marital affairs.
“I’ve said some foolish things,” Trump said in a taped apology posted on his Facebook page. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”
Turning to his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump accused her of having “bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated” her husband’s “victims”.
Trump’s 90-second statement capped a jarring day that threatened to sink his presidential campaign and sent Republicans into a panic just over a month from Election Day.
Trump’s campaign released the one-and-a-half-minute video on the Republican nominee’s social media accounts. The video apology came hours after The Washington Post and NBC News posted a video from 2005 in which the Republican nominee brags about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women who were not his wife.
Trump said: “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.”
Earlier, in a brief written statement, Trump shrugged off the leaked tape as “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago”.
In the recorded conversation, Trump was wearing a microphone and chatting on a bus with Billy Bush, then host of NBC’s Access Hollywood ahead of a segment they were about to tape.
“I did try and f--- her. She was married,” Trump said. “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there.”
Trump talked about his attraction to beautiful women. “I just start kissing them,” he said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it. Grab them by the p----. You can do anything.”
Trump initially responded to the audio by attacking the Clintons and offering a cursory apology.
“Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologise if anyone was offended,” Trump said.
Trump, known for his unconventional and controversial speaking style, has made a series of gaffes in his campaign, but the “graphic nature” of the clip will hurt his standing among women, independents, and wavering Republicans, said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
“We’ve never seen something like this Trump clip in a modern presidential campaign,” Yepsen said, calling the incident “sad for the American political system” and for Trump’s supporters.
Republican strategist Ron Bonjean said “this feels like it is quickly becoming a political ‘game over’” for Trump.
“Unless voters don’t care about these issues or believe that this is simply political dirty tricks by releasing the videos now, Trump is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his hat in order to turn things around,” Bonjean said.
Still, Trump’s past controversial comments have failed to shake his core supporters, said David Axelrod, a former political adviser to Democratic President Barack Obama.
“Appalling as the [Trump] tape is, I’m reminded of all the times we have said, THIS time he’s REALLY done,” Axelrod said on Twitter.
The revelation comes right before Sunday’s town hall-style debate, seen as critical as Trump tries to rebound from a dip in some opinion polls after a rocky performance in the first debate.
Additional reporting by Associated Press