6 People Come Forward to Back Up Writer's Claim of Alleged Trump Assault

Stoynoff's colleagues and friends say reporter told them about alleged incident.

ByABC News
October 18, 2016, 6:14 PM

— -- People has published a follow-up to its story last week detailing an alleged incident in which Donald Trump is accused of pushing writer Natasha Stoynoff against a wall and forcibly kissing her while she was at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida interviewing him and his then-pregnant wife, Melania Trump, for a feature story in 2005.

Donald Trump has vehemently denied Stoynoff's allegations from her first-person account, saying the alleged incident "never happened" and at a political rally calling her a "liar" and encouraging the crowd to "check out her Facebook page — you'll understand."

Today People published a new piece quoting six individuals who said Stoynoff told them about the alleged incident shortly after it allegedly occurred.

The new story quotes two People editors, one People writer, Stoynoff's former journalism professor and one of her friends, all of whom said that Stoynoff told them about the alleged incident Donald Trump within hours or days.

Speaking to ABC News today, Liz McNeil, one of the People editors in question, said that she remembered Stoynoff was "very shaken up" when she returned from doing the interview.

"When Natasha came back to the office, we spoke. She told me what had happened. She was very shaken up. She was scared. She wanted to know what to do," McNeil said. "We talked it through. She asked me not to tell anybody. She asked us not to tell anyone else. She was scared, and I felt I wanted to protect her, that I should protect her."

Another friend, Liza Herz, told People in today's story that she was with Stoynoff a few months later when they allegedly ran into Melania Trump on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower as she carried then-baby Barron. According to Stoynoff's account, Trump asked her why they don't see her "anymore." In today's article, Herz said Trump and Stoynoff "chatted in a friendly way."

After the publication of Stoynoff's story on Thursday, attorneys for Melania Trump released a letter they sent to People firmly denying that the encounter with Stoynoff occurred and demanding a retraction of that element of the story.

Melania Trump also denied her alleged encounter with Stoynoff in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper that aired on Monday, saying that she was never friends with Stoynoff and wouldn't recognize her.

Stoynoff wrote that the alleged incident with Donald Trump occurred during a break in their interview when Melania Trump went to change her outfit between photo shoots. While Melania Trump was gone, Donald Trump insisted on showing Stoynoff a particular room of the Palm Beach estate, she wrote. She wrote that the alleged incident ended when Donald Trump's longtime butler entered the room. (His now former butler denied in an interview with Western Journalism that this occurred.)

Stoynoff's former journalism professor Paul McLaughlin said that on the night of the alleged assault, Stoynoff called him crying and looking for advice on what to do, according to the follow-up story. He said he cautioned her to remain quiet for fear of how Donald Trump might retaliate.

Last week, McLaughlin insisted on Twitter that Stoynoff was telling the truth and that they both thought Trump "would destroy her" if she pressed charges. Speaking to ABC News today, McLaughlin said that after she came forward with her account, "I communicated with her. I was very upset Donald Trump had called her a liar."

McLaughlin added, "She called me the day of the incident — very upset and confused and angry and hurt — and asked my advice about what to do ... I felt that if she confronted him and made it public, he would deny it and try to destroy her and he could accuse her of coming on to him."

People published Stoynoff's initial story on the Trumps in January 2006 without any reference to the alleged assault.

Stoynoff wrote that she chose to speak out after the leak of Donald Trump's 2005 recorded conversation with then–"Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, in which Trump said women "let you do" anything "when you're a star."

She admitted in today's story that there's a chance Trump simply pushed her incident from his mind. "It's possible he just doesn't remember it," Stoynoff said. "It was over 10 years ago, and I assume I am one of many, many women."

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