Trump plunged into crisis as GOP recoils from vulgar remarks
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Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia 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 ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father 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 ClintonMueller’s probe doesn't end with a bang, but with a whimper Mark Mellman: History’s judgment Congress should massively ramp up funding for the NIH 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 McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters 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 CruzDebbie Wasserman Schultz marks 10 years as breast cancer survivor Foreign agent registration is no magical shield against Russian propaganda Let Trump be Trump and he'll sail through 2020 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 LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (R-Utah), called on Trump to drop out.



Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees House Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACA Overnight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioids 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 ChaffetzDem demands documents from TSA after scathing security report Chaffetz replacement sworn in as House member Democrats expand House map after election victories 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 KirkHigh stakes as Trump heads to Hill Five things to watch for at Trump-Senate GOP meeting Giffords, Scalise highlight party differences on guns MORE (R-Ill.) — are demanding that Trump leave the ticket and allow running mate Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence allies worried he'll be called to answer questions from Mueller: report Trump thought it was ‘low class’ for Pence to bring pets to VP residence: report Pence told RNC he could replace Trump on ticket after 'Access Hollywood' tape came out: 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 Michael KaineDemocrats turn on Al Franken Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank 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.”