Trump plunged into crisis as GOP recoils from vulgar remarks
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE sought to quell an uproar that threatens to send his campaign to ruin early Saturday, apologizing in a midnight video for obscene sexual remarks caught on tape in 2005.

The apology for the lewd remarks, which featured crude and aggressive sexual slang, came less than 48 hours before Trump and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonState Dept: Russia’s allegations about American citizens ‘absolutely absurd’ Trump on possible sit-down with Mueller: 'I've always wanted to do an interview' Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE are scheduled to meet in the second presidential debate.

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Trump’s apology came as he was under intense pressure from GOP leaders, amid an unprecedented outpouring of anger from conservatives, some of whom are demanding he pull out of the race entirely.

There are questions about whether the national party is considering cutting Trump loose, although the Republican National Committee denied that speculation on Friday.

At the very least, the controversy is likely to further damage Trump’s standing among women and independent voters, potentially dooming a campaign that was already in a tailspin.

Trump will have to further account for his horribly embarrassing remarks in front of tens of millions of people at Sunday night’s debate in St. Louis.

The video statement, released at 12:09 a.m. on Saturday, was the first step for Trump if he’s going to turn his campaign around.

In it, he vowed to “be a better man tomorrow.”

“I've never said I'm a perfect person or pretended to be someone that I'm not,” Trump said. “I've said and done things that I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me know these words don't reflect who I am--I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.”

It was a rare moment of contrition for the famously unapologetic businessman.

But the apology may also anger Trump’s critics. 

He dismissed the controversy as a “distraction” and sought to turn the damaging revelations about his own personal life against Clinton.

Trump said he would go on the attack against Clinton for her treatment of the women who have had affairs with Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDon't place all your hopes — or fears — on a new Supreme Court justice Why did it take so long for Trump to drain the swamp of Pruitt? An orthodox legal life and the case for Judge Kavanaugh MORE or have accused him of sexual assault; something Republicans have warned him not to do.

“I've said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between the words and actions of other people,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed, and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days. See you at the debate on Sunday.”

It was a bizarre and provocative ending to a pressure-packed eight-hour period that may represent the defining moment of the campaign.

The fallout from Trump’s 2005 remarks – which came to light on Friday afternoon after the Washington Post released hot-mic audio of Trump and former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush swapping sex stories – has been volcanic.

Democrats are casting Trump’s remarks as “predatory.” 



Republicans were already concerned about Democratic plans to link their candidates to Trump, fearing it could lead to House and Senate defeats.

Those fears were soaring on Friday night.

Top Republican leaders from Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Senate Democrats block resolution supporting ICE The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (R-Ky.) on released furious statements demanding that Trump issue a full apology.

Trump’s former primary rivals, like Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzRussia raises problems for GOP candidates Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate O'Rourke calls for Trump's impeachment over Putin summit MORE (R-Texas), turned up heat on the nominee, characterizing his remarks as beyond the pale. Cruz’s top ally on Capitol Hill, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWisconsin GOP Senate candidate rips his own parents for donations to Dems GOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE MORE (R-Utah), called on Trump to drop out.



Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWhy the rush to condemn a carbon tax? House votes to go to conference on farm bill House backs resolution expressing support for ICE MORE (R-Wis.) backed out of their first planned joint appearance, a Saturday event in the battleground state of Wisconsin that was meant as a show of unity. 

Ryan said he was “sickened” by what he heard from Trump.

“Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified,” Ryan said in a statement. “I hope Mr. Trump treats this situation with the seriousness it deserves and works to demonstrate to the country that he has greater respect for women than this clip suggests.”



Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzTucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' After FBI cleared by IG report, GOP must reform itself MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, went on his local news channel to retract his endorsement of Trump.



“I’m out,” Chaffetz said.



Some of Trump’s Republican critics — including vulnerable GOP Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkThis week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill Trump attending Senate GOP lunch Tuesday High stakes as Trump heads to Hill MORE (R-Ill.) — are demanding that Trump leave the ticket and allow running mate Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas Lewandowski: Trump-Putin meeting advances goal of world peace Indiana has spent over million on cleanup of failed Pence family gas stations: report MORE to take the lead.



The furor stirred rampant speculation that Republicans abandon Trump to focus on protecting majorities in the House and Senate. 

Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s chief strategist, sought to put those concerns to bed, denying reports of late-night meetings to replace the nominee.

 

At present, Trump has not been abandoned by party leaders, but his situation is precarious.

His early response, in which he called the remarks “locker room” talk and declined to offer a full apology, only made the situation worse for him.



“I apologize if anyone was offended,” Trump said.


In the tape, Trump talks about how he tried to “f—k” former “Access Hollywood” host Nancy O’Dell by buying her furniture, and went on to boast about how he used his celebrity to come on to women.

"When you're a star," Trump says, women let you "do anything."

"You know I'm automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

"Grab them by the p----,” Trump says. "You can do anything."



The controversy could not have come at a worse time for Trump, whose campaign had been in a tailspin since the first debate.

“The party cannot continue to support a nominee who clearly has no respect for over half of the voting population,” one top Republican told The Hill.



Clinton and her running mate Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race Green Day's 'American Idiot' climbs UK charts ahead of Trump visit MORE sought to make Trump’s past derogatory remarks about women the centerpiece of their debate arguments against Trump at previous debates, and are sure to make Trump answer for them on Sunday.

“This is horrific,” Clinton tweeted. “We must not allow this man to become president.”