In a stunningly brazen move, Donald Trump met Sunday night with several women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape and unwanted sexual advances, just over an hour before he was to step on the debate stage with Hillary Clinton. The Trump pre-debate event was the clearest sign yet that he planned to use Bill Clinton's extramarital affairs to try to distract from the swirling controversy over his own predatory remarks about women, reports the AP. Trump refused to answer questions from reporters about the video during his meeting in a hotel conference room with Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey. Some of the women seated alongside him, however, were graphic in their accusations against the Clintons. "Mr. Trump may have said some bad words, but Bill Clinton raped me and Hillary Clinton threatened me," Broaddrick said. "I don't think there's any comparison."
Broaddrick first claimed 17 years ago that Bill Clinton raped her during a meeting in Little Rock in 1978. Her lawsuit against him was dismissed in 2001 and criminal charges were never filed. Clinton has denied the allegations. Trump is trying to change the subject from his own conduct, as the release of the 2005 video has some leading Republicans convinced the damage is insurmountable. Clinton has stayed largely silent since the video was made public. Trump allies desperately hope the businessman can keep his focus in the debate on Clinton, raising questions about her trustworthiness and pushing his own populist economic ideas. But as Trump's meeting with Clinton's accusers indicated, he appeared to have other priorities. Clinton's campaign appeared unconcerned by the prospect of Trump raising Bill Clinton's past. "We’re not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom," Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said, per Politico. "I'm not sure that's what voters are going to want to hear."