“The environment’s different; let’s try again,” former Miss USA contestant Samantha Holvey told Megyn Kelly on Today Monday morning.
Last year, Holvey alleged Donald Trump made a habit of “inspecting” the pageant contestants while he owned the competition, in which she competed in 2006 as Miss North Carolina: “You know when a gross guy at a bar is checking you out? It’s that feeling,” she said. “I was disgusted by the entire thing. I had no desire to win when I understood what it was all about.” Despite Holvey’s accusation, and the accusations of at least 13 women including fellow pageant participants and journalists, and despite an audio recording of the now-president telling former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that “when you’re a star, they let you do it, … grab ’em by the pussy, you can do anything,” despite, in short, a pattern of sexual misconduct, Trump was nevertheless elected to the highest political office in the United States just more than a year ago. Though he admitted to, and apologized for, the statements he made on the Access Hollywood tape last year, he has more recently claimed it to be a hoax; his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has taken to calling Trump accusers liars.)
“The entire country said, ‘Eh, we don’t care that he’s like this,” Holvey continued on Megyn Kelly Today Monday morning.
But since the 2016 election, the early stages of what might prove to be a paradigm shift has begun to take hold. It began with the accusations of systematic sexual misconduct by producer Harvey Weinstein over the course of more than four decades, and it has continued with the now-daily occurrence of accusations of sexual harassment and assault by men primarily in Hollywood, media, and music, showing many accusers and victims that their stories will, finally, be given credence, that their abusers will, finally, face real and tangible consequences. So a trio of Trump accusers appeared on Megyn Kelly Today to “try again.”
Over the course of the morning show’s hour duration, each of the three accusers—Holvey, Jessica Leeds, and Rachel Crooks, whose accusations span from the 1980s to just 10 years ago—reiterated her story. Holvey began, describing the first time Trump visited the 2006 pageant and surveyed the contestants as if they were “meat.”
“I was just there for his pleasure,” she said. “It left me feeling very gross, really dirty.” Kelly pointed out that Trump had appeared on Howard Stern’s show and “bragged about doing exactly that”—entering the backstage area of the pageant, which was supposed to be off-limits to men, to take a look at the women in competition. “I sort of get away with things like that,” Trump said. This was not, of course, the first time he had openly admitted to varying degrees of sexual misconduct; nevertheless, the White House submitted a statement to Today describing the accusations as “false claims.”
Leeds, who accused Trump of groping her during a flight in the 1980s, also pointed out inconsistencies in the story of someone who tried to discredit her story by claiming he was on that same flight and witnessed nothing improper. “Somebody trying to get in on the story,” she described him on Today. “My story is so old that I was, frankly, shocked when I got a response. Everybody has a story…and it doesn’t matter when it happened, whether they were eight years old or whether they were 35 or older. They remember when it happened; they remember who it happened with; they remember where it happened; they remember what they had on.”
The Trump accusers’ appearance on Today, as well as a recent statement by United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Face the Nation Sunday, have prompted some to wonder whether the so-called #MeToo movement is finally coming for Trump. After all, Cory Booker and Jeff Merkley, senators from New Jersey and Oregon, respectively, separately called for Trump to resign as a result of the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Over the weekend, Haley said Trump’s numerous accusers “should be heard, and they should be dealt with.”
“We heard from them prior to the election, and I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” she continued. “Women should always feel comfortable coming forward, and we should all be willing to listen to them.”
Then again, these stories are not new. These women have already come forward. But perhaps now, they will be listened to, and, maybe, believed.