Donald Trump gave a highly unusual taped apology from Trump Tower around midnight on October 7 after controversy erupted surrounding the release of a videotape capturing crass statements he made about women years ago to a television host.
In the videotaped apology, Trump also pledged to be a “better man,” but he made it clear he intends to inject Bill Clinton’s past into the presidential race in a big way and called the tape controversy a “distraction.”
After apologizing for the words he said about women in 2005 on the Access Hollywood tape, Trump said Bill Clinton has “actually abused women” and alleged that Hillary had “bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”
Around midnight, after more than an hour of rampant speculation on Twitter and by news anchors, Trump finally released the videotaped statement, which started, “I’ve never said I’m a perfect person nor pretended to be someone 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 this words don’t reflect who I am. I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”
Watch the full statement above. Trump released it on Facebook and then on Twitter.
“I have gotten to know the great people of our country,” Trump said. “I pledge to be a better man tomorrow… this is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today.”
The taped statement comes after a flurry of outrage following the release of the video first obtained by the Washington Post. In it, Donald Trump talks to then-Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in graphic language about having sex with women and commenting on certain women’s looks.
Trump tells Bush about a failed attempt to have sex with a married woman, later revealed as Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O’Dell, who was married. The Post said Trump had been married to Melania for “several months” during the time of the conversation. You can listen to the Bush tape here.
In the video, Trump tells Bush the story, saying, “I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.” In another controversial comment, he says that when people are a star, they can do anything. “Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything,” he says.
On Twitter, speculation had been rampant about what the late-night video statement might say as controversy over the Bush tape continued to roil. Some even theorized that Trump might be dropping out, although that would be a very logistically unlikely scenario at this late stage.
The videotaped statement came on the heels of a spate of bad news for Trump, which started with his much panned performance in the first presidential debate.
The crassness of the comments from a major candidate for president sparked at least one prominent former Trump supporter – Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah – to call for Trump to drop out and let Mike Pence replace him at the top of the ticket. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Colorado Republican, also called for Donald Trump to step down, said The Hill.
Trump had issued a written statement earlier in the evening making it clear he will be at Sunday’s second presidential debate. Trump said that he will be spending Saturday in New York in “debate prep with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Jeff Sessions” before flying to St. Louis for the 2nd presidential debate on Sunday.
A few other prominent Republicans were also calling for Trump to drop out as outrage grew over the Bush tapes:
Such a scenario would be completely unprecedented and almost impossible. However, Trump was reportedly disinvited by House Speaker Paul Ryan from appearing at the Saturday rally in Wisconsin, had been absent for 24 hours from Twitter until he released the statement, and has faced withering criticism from even some supporters.
Huntsman had endorsed Trump. On Friday night, he urged Trump to drop out of the presidential race after the Bush tape was exposed by the Washington Post. The Salt Lake Tribune said that Huntsman’s “reversal” on Trump came one week after he explained why he was supporting the New York mogul.
“In a campaign cycle that has been nothing but a race to the bottom — at such a critical moment for our nation — and with so many who have tried to be respectful of a record primary vote, the time has come for Governor Pence to lead the ticket,” Huntsman said, according to the newspaper.
That development was followed a post from Erick Erickson, the conservative pundit who is notorious for his fervent Trump opposition, in which he claimed that Trump was having a crisis meeting on October 7 with his family and top Republican party officials in New York.
Others who had said before that they were voting for Trump now say they aren’t.
Others thought Pence should drop out instead.
Some Democrats hoped that Trump would not drop out.
Trump has weathered many controversies before, including about lewd comments relating to women. Furthermore, Bill Clinton has his own series of sex allegations, although he’s not running for president. Still, that history complicates matters for Democrats. And Trump made it clear he’s going to raise it.
Ryan’s rebuke of Trump and the cancellation of the appearance in Wisconsin, a key swing state, raised eyebrows.
Fox News reported that Ryan had “booted” Trump from the event, and Pence would take his place.