Trump holds pre-debate news conference with Bill Clinton accusers

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, center, sits with, from right, Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick, and Kathleen Willey, before the second presidential debate with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Washington University, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

ST. LOUIS — Just an hour before he was to take the stage with Hillary Clinton in the second presidential debate, Donald Trump held a news conference Sunday with women who have accused Bill Clinton of rape and unwanted advances.

The women included Paul Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused Bill Clinton of raping her back in the 1970s.

The Republican nominee did not take questions as he appeared with Jones, Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey. Instead, he allowed each woman to make a brief statement.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign said Trump is continuing a “destructive race to the bottom” by appearing with the women.

Jones said she was there to support Trump.

“They should all look at the fact that he is a good person. He is not what other people are saying he’s being.”

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In 1998, Bill Clinton agreed to an $850,000 settlement with Jones. She was an Arkansas state worker who accused Bill Clinton of exposing himself and making indecent proposition when Clinton was governor.

The settlement included no apology or admission of guilt.

Broaddrick sued Bill Clinton in 1999, but the case was dismissed in 2001.

A Twitter account that claimed to be that of Broaddrick revived the allegations on Saturday. Clinton has long denied her account.

Broaddrick said that three weeks after the alleged assault, Hillary Clinton approached her at a political event and thanked her for helping with Clinton’s campaign for Arkansas governor. Broaddrick has claimed that she interpreted Hillary Clinton’s comment as an attempt to force her silence about the alleged assault but there were no witnesses to the conversation. Hillary Clinton has never commented on Broaddrick’s charge.

Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer, has said President Bill Clinton forced himself on her in 1993. She says she’s supporting Donald Trump, in part, because he “can bring peace to this world.”

Willey also joined Trump at the meeting posted on his Facebook page. Clinton denied her charge and an independent prosecutor later concluded there was no evidence to doubt Bill Clinton’s denial.

Willey also claimed that Hillary Clinton helped try to discredit her. Like Broaddrick, her accusation has never been independently verified by a judge or jury. Bill Clinton has long denied the accusations and Hillary Clinton has declined to address them.

Also at the event was Kathy Shelton, an Arkansas woman who was sexually assaulted at the age of 12 and whose assailant was defended by Hillary Clinton.

Shelton said the Democratic nominee put her “through something you’d never put a 12-year-old through.”

Kathy Shelton accused Clinton of laughing at her.

Shelton was sexually assaulted in northwest Arkansas in 1975.

Clinton was asked by a judge overseeing the case to represent her alleged attacker. After the prosecution lost key evidence, Clinton’s client entered a plea to a lesser charge.

In an interview a decade later, Clinton expressed horror at the crime, but was recorded on tape laughing about procedural details of the case. The audio has been seized on by conservative groups looking to attack Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

CNN reported the four women will be in the debate hall tonight.

Hillary Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri said Clinton plans to use the Sunday night debate to talk to voters and “this stunt doesn’t change that.”

Palmieri said Clinton is “prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way.”

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