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Katrina Pierson Said Trump Couldn't Have Groped A Woman On A Plane Because Of The Armrest

The aviation defense has a couple of holes in it.

Posted on October 13, 2016, at 1:45 p.m. ET

Donald Trump's spokesperson Katrina Pierson defended the presidential candidate against a new sexual assault allegation on Wednesday by claiming he couldn't have groped a woman on a flight because "first-class seats have fixed armrests."


Pierson was addressing a New York Times report in which two new women accused Trump of forcing himself on them.

One of the women, Jessica Leeds, said she encountered Trump in the 1980s on a flight to New York. Leeds told the Times she was bumped up to first class and seated next to the real estate mogul. She said that about 45 minutes into the flight, Trump lifted the armrest between them and grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

“He was like an octopus,” Leeds told the newspaper. “His hands were everywhere.”

Pierson denied the report by suggesting there were inconsistencies in Leeds's story. "Guess what? First-class seats have fixed armrests," she told CNN's Don Lemon.


"So what I can tell you about her story, if she was groped on a plane, it wasn’t by Donald Trump and it certainly wasn’t in first class," Pierson said.

She also listed a number of different kinds of airplanes that did or didn't service New York at the time, although it was not clear how it supported her claim.

Pierson was apparently wrong about what kinds of planes flew to New York around the time of the alleged assault.

Hi @KatrinaPierson, the aircraft types you mentioned all did operate into New York City.

NYC Aviation is a news outlet focusing on the airline industry.

But the armrest defense was taken up by some Trump supporters, who called Leeds a "fake" victim.

Twitter: @DeplorableVult

Reddit sleuths and some conservative websites also repeated the claim that first-class armrests don't move.

The claim was echoed by Brit Hume on Fox News, who said the armrests "in those airplanes don't mysteriously disappear."

CNN's aviation editor Jon Ostrower, however, was able to find examples of first-class seats from the time that did have armrests you could lift up.

So far, I’ve found photos of armrests stowing on 70s-80s vintage Braniff, National and TWA first class cabins.

And as many people have pointed out, an armrest would not necessarily prevent a sexual assault in the first place.

In #KatrinaPiersonsWorld an immovable airplane armrest makes sexual assault impossible.

Jessica Leeds, in speaking to the Times, said such behavior from men was commonplace when she was younger, and women often didn't report it.

"If something happened to you, you just bucked up and went on," she said.

But she has no doubt about what took place that day: "It was an assault."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.