Six people have gone on the record to corroborate various parts of former People writer Natasha Stoynoff’s Oct. 12 recollection of being attacked by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in December 2005.
Melania Trump, the billionaire's wife, has publicly denied running into Stoynoff accidentally in New York City some time after the attack. But Stoynoff’s college friend, Liza Herz, recalled the incident to People: "They chatted in a friendly way. And what struck me most was that Melania was carrying a child and wearing heels."
Stoynoff wrote in her People article that Trump attacked her while she was on interview assignment at his Mar-a-Lago, Florida, home: "We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat."
Marina Grasic, a friend of Stoynoff's going back more than 25 years, recalled getting a phone call from Stoynoff the day after the alleged attack by Trump.
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Grasic said that Stoynoff described numerous details that appear in Stoynoff's article, including Trump pushing her against a wall for the forced kiss.
Natasha was also struggling about not hurting pregnant Melania if the story came out. Beyond just the attack, she was horrified by the vulgar circumstances under which she was attacked and propositioned to have an affair. She was there in a professional capacity, writing an article about their happy marriage, and after the incident Trump acted like nothing happened.
She was particularly concerned that if he was capable of such behavior, what else was he capable of? Certainly character assassination by a powerful man was of great concern to her, which seems warranted in light of what Trump is saying about her this week. She ultimately decided to stay quiet but be taken off the Trump beat.
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Paul McLaughlin, who is Stoynoff’s former journalism professor, recalled that Stoynoff called him in tears the night of the alleged Trump attack: "She wasn’t sure what she should do. I advised her not to say anything, because I believed Trump would deny it and try to destroy her."
McLaughlin also tweeted on Oct. 13: "It was [a] tough decision but in a he said/she said we believed she would lose. He seemed rather nasty at the time."
People East Coast Editor Liz McNeil recalled that Stoynoff confided in her about the alleged attack on the day that Stoynoff returned to New York City from the Trump assignment.
"She was very upset and told me how he shoved her against a wall," McNeil said. "The thing I remember most was how scared she was. I felt I had to protect her."
People Deputy East Coast News Editor Mary Green recalled Stoynoff telling her about the alleged attack:
In an early conversation we had in her office, she told me about what happened with Donald Trump. She was shaky, sitting at her desk, relaying that, "He took me to this other room, and when we stepped inside, he pushed me against a wall and stuck his tongue down my throat. Melania was upstairs and could have walked in at any time."
She talked about her shock, and wondered why it had happened, if she had done anything wrong. I assured her she hadn’t. She was also angry that he had forced himself on her, that she was glad someone had interrupted him, because he was surprisingly strong.
Liza Hamm, a co-worker of Stoynoff, recalled that Stoynoff told her about the alleged Trump incident:
Natasha has always been a vivacious person who wants to believe in the best of people, and this experience definitely messed with that outlook. But she is also a consummate professional. She told me that she asked to be taken off the Trump beat, but she tried her best to move past the experience and continue to do her job well.
Stoynoff gave People an update after being verbally attacked by Trump last week: "I am doing okay. It’s possible he just doesn’t remember it. It was over 10 years ago and I assume I am one of many, many women."
Trump has denied all of his accusers' stories, including Stoynoff's assertions, and he has managed to keep the support of his conservative Christian base.
Think Progress editor Judd Legum tweeted on Oct. 13: "On CNN, Jerry Falwell Jr. just said that Trump told him he has email evidence proving sexual harassment accusations against him are false."
Evangelist Franklin Graham offered some cover for Trump on Facebook on Oct. 14: "[H]e has apologized to his wife, his family, and to the American people for this. He has taken full responsibility ... My prayer is that Christians will not be deceived by the liberal media about what is at stake for future generations."