The newspaper said it would have been a “disservice to democracy to silence the voices” of the women and has dared the US presidential candidate to take them to court.
Several women have accused Republican US Presidential candidate Donald Trump of sexual harassment, claims he has steadfastly denied. On October 12, the New York Times carried a report on two women who came forward with accounts of Trump assaulting them years ago. Trump has since threatened libel against the newspaper and defended himself by saying that the claims were “absolutely false”.
Within hours of the New York Times report, several other media outlets published similar accounts, including People magazine, which carried a detailed first-person account from one of its reporters.
The revelations come days after a recording from 2005 was released, in which Trump claimed he frequently made unwelcome sexual advances at women. The recording, which caused public outrage, was dismissed as “locker room talk” by Trump during the second presidential debate days later, while he maintained that he never actually did assault any woman.
Trump’s lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, demanded that the New York Times retract the story and denied the allegations made by the women in the report. Kasowitz wrote to the newspaper saying, “It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy.”
David McCraw, vice president and assistant general counsel of the New York Times, replied to Kasowitz in a letter:
“The women quoted in our story spoke out on an issue of national importance – indeed, an issue that Mr. Trump himself discussed with the whole nation watching during Sunday night’s presidential debate. It would have been a disservice not just to our readers but to democracy itself to silence their voices.”
Kasowitz has said that if the paper were to stand by their article it would force Trump to legal action, but Reuters reports that Trump hasn’t actually sued a newspaper for libel in three decades, despite repeatedly threatening to do so. Trump’s failure to follow through on such threats was parodied earlier this year by John Oliver.
Read McCraw’s letter below: