Bill Clinton on Sunday night nearly came face-to-face with several of the women who’ve accused him of sexual assault; however, Donald Trump’s plan to put the former president’s previous indiscretions on public display hit a snag when debate officials threatened to call security.
The Republican presidential nominee held a brief pre-debate press conference with Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, who’ve each accused Bill Clinton of sex assault or rape, and Kathy Shelton, a rape victim whose attacker was defended in 1975 by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Top Trump adviser and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post early Monday that Trump also planned to host those women in his personal seating box during the debate – putting them just feet away from Bill Clinton. The plan, however, was nixed by bigwigs in the presidential debate commission.
“We were going to put the four women in the VIP box,” Giuliani told The Post. “We had it all set. We wanted to have them shake hands with Bill, to see if Bill would shake hands with them.”
But Giuliani said Debate Commission Co-Chair Frank Fahrenkopf told him security would throw the women out.
“The women were outraged,” Giuliani said. “They were in the holding room and ready to go. No one was pushing them. They volunteered. But I knew the minute we got pushback that we had gotten into their heads. [Hillary Clinton] was rattled. They were rattled.”
The seating discussions came during a pre-debate meeting in which Fahrenkopf also denied the Clinton campaign permission to have Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sit in the Clinton family box, The Post reported. Trump campaign chief executive Stephen K. Bannon reportedly pushed for the Clinton accusers to be seated in the Trump box up until three minutes before the debate was due to begin.
“But we pulled it because we were going to have a big incident on national TV,” Giuliani said. “Frank Fahrenkopf stopped us and we weren’t going to have a fight on national TV with the commission to start the debate.”