Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump denied on Sunday that lewd comments he made on a soap opera set in 2005 described sexual assault as fallout over the recording continues to rock the GOP.
Supporters have echoed Trump's assertion that the conversation between him and "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush amounted to little more than "locker room banter." Critics, however, say what Trump described is sexual assault.
"You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault," moderator Anderson Cooper said Sunday at the second presidential debate. "You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?"
"No, I didn't say that at all," Trump said. "I don't think you understood what was — this was locker room talk."
Audio of the conversation was obtained by The Washington Post and published Friday. It was recorded on a microphone that neither Trump nor Bush realized was on before Trump filmed a cameo for "Days of Our Lives."
"I better use some Tic Tacs in case I start kissing her," Trump said in the recording after spotting one of the show's actresses. "You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful women – I just start kissing them, it's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything … grab them by the (expletive). You can do anything."
The comments do appear to fall under the definition of sexual assault as used by the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to authorities, "Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient."
At Sunday's debate, Trump said that despite the controversial comments he has never kissed or touched a woman without her consent.
"I've said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it," Trump said. "But I have tremendous respect for women."