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Politics

An Unwanted Kiss from Donald Trump and Taunts of ‘Little Katy:’ NBC’s Katy Tur Dishes on Covering Campaign 2016

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During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump vehemently denied allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women, including PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff. But in November 2015, he bragged on live television about planting a “big kiss” on unsuspecting NBC reporter Katy Tur.

Four months earlier, Tur, who covered Trump on the campaign trail, had landed a coveted one-on-one television interview with the then Republican hopeful. Immediately after the sit-down, Trump lashed out at her, accusing her of plotting “deceptive editing” and growling: “You’ll never be president!”

Tur remained a target for Trump throughout the campaign, with the candidate taunting her at rallies and on Twitter, demeaning her as “naive,” a “third-rate reporter” and a liar. She even got a signature Trump nickname, usually reserved for his most bitter rivals: “Little Katy.”

But on Nov. 11, 2015, Tur became a target of a different sort.

Art Streiber/MSNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

In her new memoir, Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History, out Tuesday, Tur describes traveling to New Hampshire to watch Trump, then still a Republican hopeful, do an interview with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe.

She was backstage when he arrived to the set and, ignoring her personal “desire to avoid any interaction,” she planted herself in his path.

Tur writes that Trump came “barreling” toward her and “suddenly he is so close I can smell what he had for breakfast. And then, before I know what’s happening, his hands are on my shoulders and his lips are on my cheek.

“My eyes widen. My body freezes. My heart stops.”

“Trump lets go and saunters right onto the Morning Joe set, seemingly very proud of himself,” she continues.

“I’m mortified.”

Tur’s initial reaction was one experienced by many victims of unwanted advances: How might I be further victimized?

“F–k. I hope the cameras didn’t see that,” Tur writes. “My bosses are never going to take me seriously. I didn’t have time to duck!”

As she frantically tried to figure out whether the kiss was caught on camera (it wasn’t) Tur was shocked to hear Trump say her name mid-interview.

This time, he singled her out with praise, seemingly because of a positive comment she had recently made about him.

“Katy Tur, what happened? She was so great. I just saw her back there. I gave her a big kiss,” Trump told a stunned Scarborough and Brzezinski on air. “She was fantastic.”

RELATED VIDEO: Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

That “big kiss” for Tur smacked of what had recently dominated campaign headlines at the time: a leaked hot-mic video recording from 2005, in which Trump boasted to then Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush about how fame allowed Trump to force himself on women.

“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]. I just start kissing them,” Trump said in the recording, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released to overwhelming scrutiny in October 2016. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

“When you’re a star they let you do it,” he added. “You can do anything.

“Grab ’em by the p—y. You can do anything.”

Trump ultimately apologized for the comments, which were roundly denounced by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Tur recalls in her book how a GOP source, a state chair in a swing state, swore after the tape leaked that “this is the end” for Trump. “It’s over,” said the source, who was so distressed that she even considered quitting the Republican Party.

As Tur looked back on her coverage of countless Trump rallies — where supporters, emboldened by the man himself, chanted things like “Obama is Muslim,” wore shirts that wished for Hillary Clinton’s violent death, and pilloried the media with a fervor so intense that on one occasion Tur required Secret Service protection after Trump attacked her by name at an event — she reflected that maybe something was over.

“I’m just not so sure it’s over for Trump,” she wrote.

And of course, she was right.