Trump says groping claims are ‘fabrication’

Donald Trump said fresh allegations he had groped or made unwelcome sexual advances towards women were a “total fabrication” and claimed to have proof of their falsehood that he would release.

The accusations, made by several women who recounted alleged incidents stretching over three decades, have come amid mounting scrutiny of the Republican presidential candidate’s personal life which continued to damage his standing in opinion surveys.

“These events never, ever happened,” Mr Trump said at a campaign rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. “The claims are preposterous, ludicrous and defy truth, common sense and logic.”

The counter-attacks by Mr Trump appeared to be part of a concerted effort by the New York real estate developer to take off “the shackles” and abandon his more recently constrained campaign style, which had seen him gain in the polls against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

New polling from battleground states showed Mr Trump nine points behind Mrs Clinton in Pennsylvania in a Bloomberg poll and 2 points behind in North Carolina, a southern state where he recently led.

“The five point swing is due to … a Trump decline among independents,” said David Paleologos, who conducted the North Carolina poll for Suffolk University. “[Mrs Clinton] appears to have benefited from the fallout over Trump’s lewd comments about women.”

[Mrs Clinton] appears to have benefited from the fallout over Trump’s lewd comments about women

At the Florida rally, Mr Trump said the new allegations were part of a media campaign to support the political elites.

“For them, nothing at all is out of bounds,” he said. “They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family.”

The candidate also took to Twitter to attack stories in the New York Times and People magazine with allegations from three women who claimed he touched them inappropriately or tried to kiss them against their will.

The allegations extended a two-week run of controversy for Mr Trump. He had been in a tight race with Mrs Clinton in mid-September, but has fallen behind after a shaky first debate performance and the release of an 11-year-old video in which he brags about groping women.

The new allegations appeared to contradict Mr Trump’s assertion in the second presidential debate that “I have not” kissed women without consent or groped them.

At an event for Mrs Clinton in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama, the first lady, said Mr Trump’s behaviour was intolerable. “If we have a president who routinely degrades women, who brags about sexually assaulting women, then how can we maintain our moral authority in the world?” Mrs Obama said.

In a letter to Mr Trump’s lawyers, the New York Times defended its story: “It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices. We did what the law allows,” wrote David McCraw, a Times lawyer.

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