Donald Trump is reportedly gearing up for 'all-out war' against female accusers, media

Donald Trump is preparing for 'all-out war' over sex abuse allegations
(Image credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

At least four women came forward on Wednesday to accuse Donald Trump of unwanted sexual groping or kissing — two spoke with The New York Times, one to the Palm Beach Post, and the fourth wrote a first-person account in People — and the Trump campaign early Thursday threatened to sue The New York Times for defamation and libel. Trump personally denied the accounts in The Times and his spokespeople called the other two false. On MSNBC Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow ran through some of the accusations, then turned to Washington Post political reporter Robert Costa to find out how the Trump team is reacting to the growing trickle of sex-assault accusations.

"Donald Trump is in Miami tonight, near Doral, his property, but his campaign, I would describe it as all-out war against the accusers and especially against the media organizations that are running the stories," Costa said. The Trump campaign is surprisingly "combative tonight," Costa said, "and I think you're going to see more talk about former President Bill Clinton's past, some accusations that have been made of him in the past, and this is a campaign at war." Maddow asked what he meant by "all-out war against the accusers," and he said, "I'm not clear about that at the moment," but that it was important to remember that former Breitbart News chairman Stephen Bannon is running the Trump campaign, he's "furious," and he and Trump's aides are actively discussing litigation not only against news organizations but also accusers.

"I think this is a moment of fury, Rachel," Costa said. "I don't like to exaggerate anything in my reporting, but this is a campaign that I've never seen this furious. I think they're at the edge politically, they know the party in many respects has abandoned them, this is an isolated campaign," he added, and the core group — Bannon, David Bossie, and Kellyanne Conway — are all "fiercely anti-Clinton" and pushing to make Bill Clinton's past infidelities a central part of Trump's campaign. Conservative journalist and commentator Katie Pavlich notes the inherent flaw in this tactic:

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Also, Hillary Clinton is the one running for president, and the Trump campaign's attack line on her is that she, well, attacked and tried to discredit Bill's accusers.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.