Melania Trump defended Donald Trump in her first interview since the Republican nominee faced allegations of sexual misconduct, calling those accusations “lies” and saying Trump was “egged on” into “boy talk” during a 2005 tape in which he made lewd comments about women.
“I believe my husband. I believe my husband,” she said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday.
“This was all organized from the opposition. And with the details … did they ever check the background of these women? They don’t have any facts.”
She also said she hadn’t heard her husband use that kind of language before.
“No. No, that’s why I was surprised, because I said like I don’t know that person that would talk that way, and that he would say that kind of stuff in private,” Melania Trump said.
“I heard many different stuff — boys talk,” she said. “The boys, the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other, ‘Oh, this and that’ and talking about the girls. But yes, I was surprised, of course.”
She specifically attacked a first-person account in People Magazine, in which journalist Natasha Stoynoff said Trump made an unwanted advance while she worked on a story about his one-year wedding anniversary.
The reporter described a chance encounter later with Melania Trump, who says it never happened — and her lawyers have threatened to sue over the claim.
“Even the story that came out in people magazine, the writer she said my husband took her to the room and start kissing her,” she said. “She wrote in the same story about me — that she saw me on 5th Avenue, and I said to her, ‘Natasha, how come we don’t see you anymore?’ I was never friends with her, I would not recognize her.”
That, Melania Trump said, “was another thing like people come out saying lies and not true stuff.”
It was the first public defense Melania Trump has made of her husband since a tape in which Trump bragged about sexually aggressive behavior toward women was published by The Washington Post and NBC. In the wake of that report, several women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
Trump said her husband was “egged on” in the 2005 tape in which he made lewd comments about his own sexually aggressive behavior toward women — remarks she says were “boy talk.”
“I said to my husband that, you know, the language was inappropriate. It’s not acceptable. And I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know,” she said.
“And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on — it was only a mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on,” she said, referring to Trump and NBC’s “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
She said they were engaged in “boy talk, and he was led on — like, egged on — from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”
She said she agrees with Michelle Obama’s assertion that kissing or groping a woman without consent is sexual assault.
“But every assault should be taken care of in a court of law. And to accuse, no matter who it is, a man or a woman, without evidence is damaging and unfair,” she said.
Melania Trump defended her husband’s criticism on the campaign trail of his accusers’ looks — an implication that the women who have alleged his misconduct aren’t attractive enough to sexually assault.
‘I know he respects women’
“He’s raw. He will say it as he feels it. So you know, I know he respects women. But he’s defending himself because they’re lies,” she said.
She said she jokes that her husband at times behaves like an overgrown boy — and that she saw his “Access Hollywood” remarks as emblematic of that.
“Sometimes I say I have two boys at home — I have my young son and I have my husband. But I know how some men talk, and that’s how I saw it, yes,” she said.
She said she would keep their personal conversations private — but that Trump apologized for his remarks on the tape.
“I accept his apology. I hope the American people will accept it as well. And it was many, many years ago. He’s not the man that I know,” she said.
Melania Trump called her husband “real” and “raw” — and said because of his years as an entertainer, he faced an especially tough challenge transitioning into politics, because he has made decades’ worth of controversial comments.
“It’s very hard, especially for him — when he decided to run for the presidency, because he did so many stuff in his life. He was on so many tapes, so many shows. And we knew that — that, you know, tapes will come out, people won’t want to go against him.
“But my husband is real. He’s raw. He tells it like it is. He’s kind. He’s a gentleman. He supports everybody. He supports women. He encourages them to go to the highest level, to achieve their dreams. He employs many, many women,” she said.
‘He didn’t say he did it’
She said she wouldn’t describe what Trump said on the tape as sexual assault, even though in the video Trump appeared to be describing his own actions.
“No, that’s not sexual assault,” she said. “He didn’t say he did it.”
Melania Trump said she believes Trump in part because she’s seen him deflect brazen advances from other women.
“I see many, many women coming to him and giving phone numbers and, you know, want(ing) to work for him — inappropriate stuff from women. And they know he’s married,” she said.
“You’ve seen that?” Cooper asked.
“Oh yes, of course. It was in front of me,” Trump said. “In front of me. And I’ve said, like, ‘Why did you give your number to my husband?’ ”
Melania Trump reserved her strongest critique for the political press, which she says has yet to report an accurate story about her.
“I didn’t expect media would be so dishonest and so mean. I didn’t expect that,” she said. “Also for me, from the beginning, I never had one correct story — one honest story.”
She backed her husband’s claims that the election is being rigged in Hillary Clinton’s favor, arguing that media bias is undercutting her husband.
“Well I see it how the media is portraying — I see how they report things, and what they want to say and what they don’t want to say,” she said.
“They’re going — just for example, he makes a speech 45 minutes long, they take a sentence out, and they’re going on and on about that sentence, nothing else,” she said. “And he talks about the issues, and that’s what American people want to hear, it’s about issues, about jobs, about the future of our country, and that’s what he wants to do.
She added: “He wants to secure the borders, he wants to secure America, he wants to bring jobs back, he wants to bring economy back, and he’s very passionate about American people, because he knows he can do that. He’s a worker, he’s a fighter, he is, he’s very passionate about it, and he will not give up, he will fight till the end, and he will fight for American people as he’s fighting now for himself.”
Melania Trump also made clear she doesn’t want sympathy.
“I’m very strong. And people — they don’t really know me. People think and talk about me like, ‘Oh, Melania, oh poor Melania,'” she said.
“Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t feel sorry for me. I can handle everything,” she added.
By Eric Bradner, CNN