The Donald Trump campaign has released a lengthy statement from former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos’ first cousin in an attempt to discredit her claims that Trump had unwanted sexual contact with her.
The statement by John Barry, identified as Zervos’ first cousin, who is from Mission Viejo, California, contends that Zervos “converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.”
He alleges that Zervos’ attitude toward Trump changed when Trump declined an invite to Summer’s restaurant during the primary. The release comes as the Trump campaign reels from a string of allegations lodged by Zervos and others that Trump subjected them to unwanted physical advances and contact. Trump denies the allegations.
The Trump campaign also released an email purportedly from Zervos to a Trump official, Rhona Graff, in which Zervos allegedly said she would “greatly appreciate reconnecting” and insisting her intentions were “genuine.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Barry Claims Zervos Repeatedly Praised Trump in ‘Glowing’ Terms
In the statement released by the Trump campaign, Barry alleges that Zervos “had nothing but glowing things to say about Mr. Trump” ever since she was on the Apprentice. For almost a decade, my cousin would talk about how much she looked up to Mr. Trump and viewed him as an inspiration – a success story she wanted to copy.”
You can read Barry’s full statement above.
He added that “Summer would also talk about how kind and caring Mr. Trump was on the show, and how he would even visit children in hospitals without telling the press. She has praised the good things he’s done for her life, and in fact she converted her friends and our family to become Trump supporters even though we’ve never been active in politics before.”
2. Barry Claims Her Attitude Shifted After Trump Wouldn’t Appear at Her Restaurant & Zervos’ Attorney Says Barry Expressed Hostility When His Employment There Ended
In the statement, Barry added that Zervos expressed positive feelings about Trump “until Summer invited Mr. Trump to her restaurant during the primary and he said no.” As for negative comments she has made about Trump, he contended: “That’s not how she talked about him before.”
He further alleged, “I can only imagine that Summer’s actions today are nothing more than an attempt to regain the spotlight at Mr. Trump’s expense, and I don’t think it reflects well.” He said that her press conference left him “shocked and bewildered.”
In a statement, Zervos’ attorney Gloria Allred said three people had “corroborated that Summer told people who were close to her what she alleges Mr. Trump did to her.”
The statement continued that “John Barry is a huge Trump supporter. He was employed at Summer’s family restaurant until several months ago when his employment ended. Since then he has expressed hostility and ill will towards Summer. Given the rifts in the family relationships which existed even prior to Summer making her statement today, and given his support for Mr. Trump, Summer does not intend to create further rifts by commenting further on Mr. Barry.”
3. Trump’s Campaign Also Released an Email From Zervos to a Trump Higher Up
The email is from Zervos to Rhona Graff, Trump’s executive assistant, and it’s dated April 14, 2016 at 3:30 p.m. The subject line says “Summer Zervos Restaurant.”
In it, Zervos writes, “I am in a unique situation being that I am the only former Apprentice who operates a business where Mr. Trump’s supporters can walk in, express their admiration for him and inquire about my experience.”
She continues, “Mr. Trump has a great deal of support in Huntington Beach, Cal. He has witnessed both my highs and lows operating a small business…we hire a diverse crew and embrace anyone who is honest while working hard. Mr. Trump is cut from the same cloth.”
The email concludes, “I would greatly appreciate reconnecting at this time… He will know my intentions are genuine.”
According to The Hill, Zervos referenced the email, “along with another message sent a few days later, in her tearful press conference Friday” and said “she wanted to confront Trump and give him the ‘opportunity to clear the air.'”
Here’s what Zervos said at the press conference:
The Trump campaign has not released the second email.
4. Zervos Called a Press Conference to Allege That Trump Sexually Harassed Her & Thrust His Genitals at Her
Zervos was by no means the only recent Trump accuser; however, she went public with her allegations in a dramatic way by holding a press conference alongside Gloria Allred, the high profile celebrity lawyer.
Zervos, who was a contestant on the Apprentice in 2006, alleges that in 2007 she met with Donald Trump to discuss a job opportunity, only for him to sexually harass her and thrust his genitals at her.
Allred said that she had spoken to several people who Zervos told about the incident at the time and who can corroborate her account. According to The Guardian, “In her prepared statement, Zervos said she had told both her parents and a friend about her encounters with Trump.”
Zervos alleged that Trump began kissing her on the mouth very aggressively, placing his hand on her breast. She says she repeatedly tried to get him to stop, but he continued and began thrusting his genitals at her. She says she repeatedly avoided sexual contact and told Trump that she just came to have dinner, and afterwards, Zervos says that Trump became angry.
Trump supporters have pointed to WikiLeaks’ hacked emails in an attempt to discredit Allred.
Zervos was a contest in the Apprentice’s fifth season in 2006, and was the first contestant fired.
5. The Barry Letter Is Part of the Trump Campaign’s Attempts to Combat Multiple Accusations of Unwanted Contact
The Trump campaign is trying to combat a series of allegations that have emerged just four weeks from the presidential election from women contending Trump subjected them to unwanted physical contact, sometimes kissing and sometimes groping. Trump has responded by forcefully denying the allegations.
His campaign previously pointed to a man, Anthony Gilberthorpe, who claims that he is an eyewitness who can dispute Trump accuser Jessica Leeds’ account of what happened between Leeds and Trump on an airplane more than 30 years ago. Gilberthorpe previously lodged accusations that “as a 17-year-old he procured boys…for sex parties with high-ranking British politicians,” says The New York Post, adding that he had not produced any evidence to back up his claims regarding Leeds.
Trump denies the Zervos and other allegations. He also released a statement saying in part, “I vaguely remember Ms. Zervos as one of the many contestants on The Apprentice over the years. To be clear, I never met her at a hotel or greeted her inappropriately a decade ago. That is not who I am as a person, and it is not how I’ve conducted my life. In fact, Ms. Zervos continued to contact me for help, emailing my office on April 14th of this year asking that I visit her restaurant in California.”