Two women accused Donald Trump of inappropriate touching in a story published on Wednesday by the New York Times, claims his spokesman called "fiction" but which may further damage the Republican presidential nominee's chances of winning the White House just four weeks before the Nov. 8 election.
The report was followed by a stream of similar allegations from other women, putting more pressure on the Trump campaign as it lags in national opinion polls and struggles to contain a crisis caused by the candidate's comments about groping women without their consent which surfaced on Friday.
One of the women, Jessica Leeds, appeared on camera on the New York Times' website to recount how Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on a flight to New York in or around 1980. (nyti.ms/2dx8k5R)
The second woman, Rachel Crooks, described how Trump "kissed me directly on the mouth" in 2005 outside the elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she was a receptionist at a real estate firm.
Trump's campaign denied there was any truth to the New York Times accounts. It made public a letter to the newspaper from Marc Kasowitz, a lawyer representing Trump, demanding it retract the story, calling it "libelous," and threatening legal action if it did not comply.
"This entire article is fiction, and for the New York Times to launch a completely false, coordinated character assassination against Mr. Trump on a topic like this is dangerous," the Trump campaign's senior communications adviser Jason Miller said in a statement.
Reuters could not independently verify the incidents. Leeds and Crooks did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
"We stand by the story, which falls clearly into the realm of public service journalism," a New York Times spokeswoman said.
The report comes just two days after a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed one in five Republicans thought Trump's comments about groping women disqualified him from the presidency, and put him 8 points behind Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton among likely voters.