In her first interview since a tape was released of Donald Trump talking lewdly about women, Melania Trump described her husband’s words as “boy talk” and said he was “egged on” by then “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
“I believe my husband, I believe my husband,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, responding to a question about the ten women who have come forward in the past week to say Trump had acted inappropriately with them, accusations the candidate has repeatedly denied.
It was the first of several interviews Melania Trump gave on Monday – the CNN interview aired Monday night and a second was set to air Tuesday morning on Fox News – and marked a rare slate of appearances for a very private wife.
She said she was surprised when she first heard the now infamous 2005 tape in which her husband, then 59, brags about being able to grope women freely because of his celebrity status, because she had never heard her husband speak that way before. The tape was released by the Washington Post and NBC a week ago Friday and has been replayed incessantly on TV news networks.
“I don’t know that person that would talk that way,” she said. At the same time she said, “Sometimes I say I have two boys at home — I have my young son and I have my husband.”
Her husband apologized to her the day the tape was released, she said, and she told him his language, “is inappropriate, it’s not acceptable.” But she, added, “I accept his apology. I hope the American people will accept it as well. And it was many, many years ago.”
She said the man heard on the tape is, “not the man that I know.”
As for the way he has spoken about his accusers on the campaign trail in recent days, insulting their looks and saying they were not attractive enough to grope, she dismissed that saying, “That’s him, he’s raw, he will say it if he feels it. I know he respects women. But he’s defending himself because they are lies.”
She disagreed that the behavior described by Trump on the tape – kissing and groping women without asking – was sexual assault. An assault, she said, “should be taken care of in a court of law. And to accuse without evidence, it’s damaging and it’s unfair.”
Melania Trump also spoke extensively about a major theme of the Trump campaign this week – that the media is conspiring to “rig” the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. The timing of the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape the Friday before the second debate, like the release of three pages of his tax returns the weekend before the first debate, were evidence of that, she said.
“Everything was organized, every Friday something comes out, they play they play they play. It was hour after hour after hour. They want to influence the American people how to vote,” she said.
It is her choice to be home with her son, Barron, she said, rather than travel extensively with the campaign. That does not indicate she is meek, she warned.
“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.”