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Trump lures reporters to 'debate prep,' where he sits among Bill Clinton accusers

Hinting where he may take the second presidential debate, Donald Trump on Sunday night lured reporters to his final "debate preparations" — where he sat among women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault.

Trump, mired in possibly the worst 48 hours of his presidential campaign after the leak of a 2005 video in which he joked about touching women aggressively and sexually without consent, made the bizarre move just 90 minutes before his debate against Hillary Clinton. Trump sat with Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones, all of whom accused the former president of sexual misconduct in the past. They were joined by Kathy Shelton, who was allegedly raped when she was 12, and Hillary Clinton defended the man.

Some have alleged, without providing any evidence, that Hillary Clinton covered for her husband and tried to intimidate those women.

The Clinton campaign called his pre-debate photo opportunity "an act of desperation," saying "we're not surprised to see Donald Trump continue his destructive race to the bottom." It added that Clinton is "prepared to handle whatever Donald Trump throws her way."

Donald Trump sits with (from R-L) Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey in a hotel conference room in St. Louis, shortly before the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, October 9, 2016.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Donald Trump sits with (from R-L) Paula Jones, Kathy Shelton, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey in a hotel conference room in St. Louis, shortly before the second presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis, October 9, 2016.

Trump has taken an aggressive approach in the wake of the tape's release, which prompted nearly universal criticism and led several Republican lawmakers to withdraw their support. He defiantly tweeted over the weekend that he would not drop out of the race as calls mounted for him to do so.

Trump, in apologizing and playing defense this weekend about his past remarks, hinted he wanted to turn the tables on the Clinton family.

The Republican presidential candidate touted his event Sunday as "debate preparation," streaming it live on Facebook. The women pledged their support for Trump in short statements.

Trump did not respond when asked by reporters about why he would say that he would grope women without consent. Jones responded, shooting back, "Why don't y'all go ask Bill Clinton that? Ask Hillary as well."

Broaddrick, Jones and Willey will be in the debate audience, the Trump campaign said.

Correction: This story was revised to correct that Kathy Shelton did not accuse Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her. She was allegedly raped when she was 12, and Hillary Clinton defended the man.