NYT says no libel, no retraction, no apology for Trump story

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pa. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pa. (AP Photo/John Locher)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The New York Times on Thursday rejected Donald Trump’s claim the newspaper had libeled the Republican presidential nominee, saying its story about two women who said he sexually assaulted them was “newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern.”

In a letter, Times attorney David McCraw said Trump “has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women” and that multiple women had already come forward. “Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself,” he wrote.

The Times reported Wednesday that two women told the paper of his unwanted sexual advances. One, Jessica Leeds, said Trump groped her on an airplane more than three decades ago. The other, Rachel Crooks, said Trump kissed her without invitation in 2006 when she was a 22-year-old receptionist for a real estate firm located at Trump Tower.

Trump vehemently denied the allegations, and demanded through his attorney that the story be retracted. At a rally in Ohio, Trump said the media had “slandered and lied about me with false accusations.”

The Times refused to retract the story, saying its reporters worked diligently to confirm the women’s accounts. “It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices,” McCraw’s letter said.

McCraw said that if Trump decides to go ahead with a lawsuit, then “we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, is threatening to sue a separate publication over another woman’s allegation of assault by her husband.

Lawyers for Melania Trump demanded Thursday that People magazine retract and apologize for a story in which one of its writers, Natasha Stoynoff, describes being assaulted by Trump at their Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, in 2005. Stoynoff wrote that she had arrived to interview the couple for a story, and that when Melania Trump left the room, her husband pushed Stoynoff against a wall and assaulted her.

The story also says the writer and Melania Trump later ran into each other in New York and had a conversation. Lawyers for the Republican nominee’s wife say no such encounter occurred.

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