WASHINGTON — Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the race for the White House, fought Sunday to stem several controversies including his relationship with women and his refusal to release his tax returns.
The billionaire real estate mogul and his backers hit back at a New York Times article that detailed Trump’s complex and contradictory history with women.
The paper conducted more than 50 interviews with women associated with Trump and was told of unwelcome advances and plenty of crude commentary on female bodies.
One contestant in the Miss USA pageant, which Trump owned from 1997 to 2015, said that in 1997, the New York tycoon introduced himself and kissed her and other contestants on the lips. He was married to actress Marla Maples at the time.
But Trump also nurtured the careers of several women within his business organization.
One former female Trump executive, Louise Sunshine, had glowing words for her ex-boss.
Everyone is laughing at the @nytimes for the lame hit piece they did on me and women.I gave them many names of women I helped-refused to use
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 15, 2016
“He was never a boss. He was a leader,” Sunshine, who worked for Trump for a decade, told CNN. “He taught me. He mentored me.”
Trump also hired Barbara Res as his head of construction in the 1980s, at a time when there were few women in such positions at major construction firms.
She said her boss wanted her to be a “Donna Trump.”
Trump took to Twitter to blast the article.
“The failing @nytimes wrote yet another hit piece on me. All are impressed with how nicely I have treated women, they found nothing. A joke!” read one tweet.
Speaking on Sunday morning talk shows, Republican Party chief Reince Priebus defended his party’s presumptive presidential nominee.
“I don’t think Donald Trump in his personal life is something that people are looking at and saying, ‘Well, I’m surprised that he has had girlfriends in the past.’ That’s not what people look at Donald Trump for. So I think the traditional playbook and analysis really don’t apply,” he told Fox News Sunday.
In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2016
Trump’s team faced questioning over why he was continuing to refuse to release his tax returns, which is normally expected of presidential candidates.
Trump has said his returns are being audited and he was unable to release the documents until they are finalized.
The audits cover eight years of returns, Trump convention manager Paul Manafort said.
“This is an issue that the media is interested in, not an interest for middle America,” Manafort told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Donald Trump will comply when the audit is done.”
He also defended his boss after the Washington Post published last week a 1991 recording of an interview between a People magazine reporter and a supposed spokesman for Trump named John Miller, whose voice closely resembles that of the New York developer.
“Donald Trump says it’s not him, I believe it’s not him,” Manafort said.
However, in 1990, Trump himself acknowledged that he had sometimes posed as his own spokesman.