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Anderson Cooper Credited With Bringing Trump Accusers Forward

Anderson Cooper

The gay anchor's tough questioning of Donald Trump in Sunday's debate has led more women to go public with allegations of sexual attacks by the businessman.

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Some of the women coming forward with new allegations of sexual assault by Donald Trump say a gay man influenced them to do so.

That man is CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, who early in Sunday night's presidential debate questioned Trump, the Republican nominee, about a recording that had just surfaced of comments he made while taping an Access Hollywood segment in 2005, boasting that he could get away with grabbing women by the genitals or forcibly kissing them because of his fame. Trump replied that his remarks were just "locker-room talk" and that he hadn't actually engaged in such behaviors.

Jessica Leeds, who says she was groped by Trump when seated next to him on an airplane in the 1979, had told her story to neighbor and friend Linda Ross, who had encouraged her to go public with it. Leeds did not decide to do so until she watched the debate with Ross, during which Ross said to her, "Now we know he lied straight up," The New York Times reports. And Leeds told the Times that when she saw that, "I wanted to punch the screen."

Leeds encountered Trump when she was bumped up from coach to first class; they had never met before. About 45 minutes into the flight, she said, he lifted the armrest separating them and began to grope her, touching her breasts and putting his hand up her skirt, she told the Times. "He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."

Another woman who spoke to the Times, Rachel Crooks, was also prompted to discuss her experiences because of Cooper's questioning of Trump at the debate, the paper reports. Crooks was a receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate firm with an office in the Trump Tower in New York City, when one day in 2005 she ran into Trump outside an elevator in the building and introduced herself. They shook hands, but he wouldn't let go, and then started kissing her, first on the cheeks and then on the mouth, she said.

"It was so inappropriate," she told the Times. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Trump denies that either incident happened, and he has threatened to sue the Times over its story. Other women have come forward to other publications with allegations since the debate, and he denies these as well.

Many others, though, are praising Cooper for bringing up the subject. Here are some of the tweets on the topic.

Leeds gave an interview to Cooper on AC 360 today on CNN. Trump touched her, she told Cooper, "wherever he could find a landing spot." Watch below.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.