Speed Reads

The second 2016 presidential debate

Debate officials foiled Trump campaign plan to seat Bill Clinton's accusers in family box

Had a plan devised by Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign chief executive Stephen Bannon gone through, four women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct would have been seated in Trump's family box during Sunday night's presidential debate.

The Washington Post spoke with four people involved with discussions for the scheme, who said it was thought up by Bannon and Ivanka Trump's husband, with the personal approval of Donald Trump. Many of Trump's top aides were unaware of the setup, but officials from the Commission on Presidential Debates found out before the debate started and put the kibosh on it, warning that if Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Kathy Shelton sat in the box, security would remove them. "We had it all set," Trump surrogate and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani told the Post. "We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them." Clinton has long denied the allegations made against him by the women.

Giuliani said Bannon only backed down three minutes before the debate started, and the women were seated in the general audience. One of the chairmen of the debate commission, former Republican National Committee chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf, issued the warning to Trump's campaign, and after the debate, Giuliani complained about him, saying it was unfair that during the first debate, billionaire and Clinton surrogate Mark Cuban sat in the front row. "The women were outraged," Giuliani told the Post. "They were in the holding room and ready to go. No one was pushing them. They volunteered."