A former Miss New Hampshire told BuzzFeed News last spring that Donald Trump strolled through the dressing rooms backstage at the 2000 Miss USA pageant and stared at the naked contestants.
In May, his campaign issued a blanket denial, calling Bridget Sullivan's story and those of several other beauty queens “totally false.”
But Sullivan’s story has now received support from an unexpected source: Trump himself. The presidential candidate, who owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants until last year, told Howard Stern in 2005 that he made a habit of busting into the dressing rooms even when the contestants were not dressed.
“I’ll tell you the funniest is that I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone's getting dressed,” Trump told Stern in recordings released Saturday by CNN. “No men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in, because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it…. ‘Is everyone OK’? You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody OK?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that.”
As with many of Trump's stories — about his business success, his sexual prowess, and now his proclivity for sexual assault — it can be hard to disentangle reality from Trump's exaggerations and braggadocio. But Sullivan's words suggest that Trump's behavior toward the pageant women is more than just talk.
On the radio, Stern snickered along with Trump, but Sullivan said she did not find it funny.
“The time that he walked through the dressing rooms was really shocking. We were all naked,” she said. Sullivan compared Trump to a "creepy uncle." "He’d hug you just a little low on your back," she said.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Jessica Garrison is a senior investigative editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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