CNN anchor Anderson Cooper accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of sexual assault, based on statements the GOP nominee made in 2005 that were secretly recorded.
"You described kissing women without their consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault," Cooper told Trump during the second presidential debate. "You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?"
The Washington Post claimed that Cooper used the Justice Department's definition of sexual assault, which is described as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”
“No, I didn’t say that at all,” Trump replied. “I don’t think you understood what was said. This was locker-room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologized to my family, I apologized to the American people.”
In the 2005 recording, first released by Access Hollywood, Trump is recorded telling then-host Billy Bush about how he behaves with women he's attracted to.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them,” Trump said, reported The Los Angeles Times. “It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
“Whatever you want,” said an unidentified voice in the recording.
“Grab them by the pussy,” Trump said. “You can do anything.”
During the debate, Cooper pressed Trump on those comments.
“Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus 11 years ago, that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?” he asked.
“I have great respect for women,” Trump responded. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Frankly, you hear these things -- they’re said.”
“Have you ever done those things?” Cooper asked again.
“No, I have not,” Trump said.
Trump has been sharply criticized for the 11-year-old remarks and many Republican figures have tried to distance themselves from his campaign, including Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.
"The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities," Ryan's spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said in a statement, according to CNN.