Donald Trump’s ‘Access Hollywood’ Crisis Playbook

People who know him cite this semi-magical thinking as a kind of political superpower, when harnessed effectively.

“Don’t underestimate his personal resiliency,” Mr. Scaramucci said. He recalled the president’s advice to him once about news-cycle velocity: “He said, ‘Yeah, you get negative press. It lasts about a week. And then it blows over, and they’re onto something else, and nobody cares.’”

On this weekend, though, Trump advisers sensed that little would blow over on its own.

The idea of deploying Mr. Clinton’s accusers had filtered through the Trump orbit for months, discussed among Mr. Bannon and allies like Aaron Klein of Breitbart News — the hard-right, Trump-supporting site that Mr. Bannon had run — and long promoted by Roger J. Stone Jr., the informal Trump adviser and infamous Republican hell-raiser. (On Friday, Mr. Trump commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence on seven felony crimes after he had been convicted last year of obstructing a congressional investigation into the Trump 2016 campaign and possible ties to Russia.)

Just before “Billy Bush weekend,” as Mr. Bannon calls it (a nod to the “Access Hollywood” personality on tape with Mr. Trump), three of the Clinton accusers had been in Washington for interviews with Mr. Klein.

As Republican pleas for Mr. Trump’s ouster multiplied, Mr. Bannon recognized an opportunity. He said he called Mr. Klein, now an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and asked how the Clinton material looked. The answer pleased him. New travel arrangements were made.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump sought temporary comfort in a familiar balm: applause.

By 5 p.m. on Saturday, supporters had clustered along Fifth Avenue, waving signs from the sidewalk. Mr. Trump descended to the marbled lobby, joined by his eldest son and his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, and stepped through the glass front door.

He pumped his right fist, to cheers. Fans reached out to graze his suit jacket.

A reporter asked if he would stay in the race. “Hundred percent,” Mr. Trump replied.


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