Republican nominee Donald Trump’s disgraceful efforts to discredit his sexual assault accusers keeps running into a key obstacle – the bravery of those willing to stand up for the truth in the face of a vicious smear campaign and brutal harassment from Trump’s rabid supporters.
The story of Natasha Stoynoff, a PEOPLE magazine reporter who Trump attempted to rape while she was interviewing him for a piece about the happiness of his marriage, has now been confirmed by no less than six of her close associates, friends, and colleagues, who all paint the same picture of a devoted young journalist utterly shaken by her abuse at the hands Trump.
Her friend, Marina Grasic, who has known Stoynoff for more than 25 years, says she got a call from her friend the day after the attack. “Natasha was also struggling about not hurting pregnant Melania if the story came out. Beyond just the attack, she was horrified by the vulgar circumstances under which she was attacked and propositioned to have an affair. She was there in a professional capacity, writing an article about their happy marriage, and after the incident Trump acted like nothing happened.”
Liza Herz was with Stoynoff when they ran into Melania Trump on 5th Avenue in New York following the assault, a meeting Melania denied in yesterday’s interview with CNN‘s Anderson Cooper. “They chatted in a friendly way,” Herz, who met Stoynoff in college, says. “And what struck me most was that Melania was carrying a child and wearing heels.”
Stoynoff’s former journalism professor, Paul McLaughlin who “says that the writer called him in tears looking for advice the very night of the harrowing encounter. However, he cautioned her to remain quiet in fear of how Trump may retaliate.”
PEOPLE East Coast Editor Liz McNeil “remembers the day she returned from the assignment in Florida to cover Trump and his wife’s first anniversary. She was very upset and told me how he shoved her against a wall. The thing I remember most was how scared she was. I felt I had to protect her.”
Deputy East Coast News Editor Mary Green was told Stoynoff’s story several years later after she returned to the PEOPLE staff, saying Stoynoff was “haunted” by the assault.
Friend Liza Hamm also says she was told the story by Stoynoff. “Natasha has always been a vivacious person who wants to believe in the best of people, and this experience definitely messed with that outlook,” Hamm says. “But she is also a consummate professional. She told me that she asked to be taken off the Trump beat, but she tried her best to move past the experience and continue to do her job well.”
Last week, Stoynoff recounted how she was at Trump’s Mar-el-Lago mansion to do a couples’ interview on the newly married Trump and the very pregnant Melania. What happened next will make your blood run cold:
“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat. Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself” recounts Stoynoff of her traumatic assault by Trump.
Donald Trump has been doing his damnedest to smear and discredit his accusers, accusing them of lying for personal gain, of being complicit in some kind of plot by “the Clinton Machine,” and encouraging his supporters to harass them – to the point where one woman felt forced to flee the country in fear.
But the evidence just keeps piling up, and six different testimonies from six different people close to Stoynoff is about as much evidence as we’ll ever be able to get to corroborate this one story- unless the butler, who saw the whole thing, ever decides to to come clean about his rapist boss. But considering at least ten other women have come forward sharing the same kind of story, describing behavior that Trump himself boasted of doing, it’s pretty clear who the liar is in this situation.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.