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Women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct speak out

by Dartunorro Clark /  / Updated 
Rachel Crooks, Samantha Holvey, and Jessica Leeds speak with Megyn Kelly about accusing President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

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Four women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct before he took office called on Congress to investigate the allegations as America's watershed #MeToo moment continues to unfold.

Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks, appearing together on "Megyn Kelly Today" on Monday, described separate interactions with the president in years past, with one of the allegations dating back several decades. Lisa Boyne, who also came forward last year, joined the others via phone for a news conference hours later.

Related: 56 female Democratic lawmakers ask House to investigate Trump

Holvey said when she competed in Trump’s Miss USA pageant in 2006, Trump came backstage unexpectedly when she and other contestants were wearing nothing but robes and he personally inspected the contestants.

“I just felt so gross,” she said. "Just looking me over like I was a piece of meat.”

“Nobody dreams of being ogled when you’re a little girl wanting to wear a crown," she added.

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Holvey said she was inspired to go public again as more and more women have spoken out about harassment in their own lives. In recent months alone, the avalanche of sexual misconduct scandals, tipped off by the accusations against Harvey Weinstein, has toppled at least 29 men in entertainment, business and the news media. Three members of Congress, accused of a wide range of inappropriate behavior, announced their resignations last week.

"It was heartbreaking last year ... we're private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there and try to show America who this man is and especially how he views women and for them to say 'Meh, we don't care,' it hurt," Holvey said. "And so now it's just like, let's try round two. The environment's different, let's try again."

Crooks said Trump forcibly kissed her multiple times during an interaction near an elevator bank in Trump Tower in 2005 while working for a third-party company.

“He held onto my hand, and he kept kissing me," she said. Afterward, she ran into her boss' office and said she called her sister.

"And I was like, 'I don't know what just happened but I felt horrible,'" she said.

Leeds alleged that more than three decades ago during a flight Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

"I do remember, at one point out of my side eye thinking that guy sitting across the aisle, why doesn’t he come to my defense? Where’s the stewardess?" she said. "But then, when [Trump's] hand started going up my skirt — I’m not a small person — I managed to wiggle out and stand up, grab my purse and I went to the back of the airplane."

Leeds said that she is speaking out again because “I would like to see that he’s not Teflon.”

At a separate press conference Monday, the four women said Congress should investigate the accusations against the president, expressing concern that even as other powerful men are being held accountable, Trump remains exempt.

"Things were flying all over the place" after the Weinstein story, Leeds said. "And it became apparent that in some areas the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously and people were being held accountable, except for our president, and he was not being held accountable," she added.

Crooks said that if the Senate was willing to probe the groping allegations against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., who resigned last week, lawmakers should do the same for Trump.

"I ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump’s history of sexual misconduct," she said.

Holvey, meanwhile, said she would like to see Trump resign, but did not think he would. She also said she did not intend to pursue legal action.

"What am I going to sue him for? Being really creepy?" said Holvey. "That’s not something that would stand up in court, but what I am more concerned about is as a culture in our country is what is acceptable behavior. And if the standard that our president is setting — it’s not high enough right now."

The president has been accused by 16 women of sexual misconduct, allegations that he has forcefully denied. In a statement to NBC News Monday, the White House called the claims "false" and that "the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory" to Trump last year.

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