Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Anderson Cooper’s repeated questioning of the Republican nominee at Sunday night’s presidential debate about descriptions of sexual assault he made in 2005 demeaned actual victims of such crimes.
The questions from the CNN anchor and debate moderator were in response to a bombshell report published Friday by The Washington Post that contained audio of Trump making incredibly vulgar remarks about women. In the clips, Trump says he “did try and f---” a married woman by taking her shopping for furniture and brags that his celebrity status allowed him to make unwanted sexual advances against women and grope them with impunity.
“When you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump can be heard telling NBC’s Billy Bush on the tape. “Grab them by the p----. You can do anything.”
Sunday night, Cooper was forced to ask Trump three times if he had actually done any of the actions he described to Bush on the tape before the Manhattan billionaire said he had not.
“When Anderson cooper pressed Mr. Trump on sexual assault, Donald Trump shot back and said no, that’s not what this was. These are words,” as opposed to actual actions, Conway said on Fox News’s “Fox and Friends” Monday morning. “And I think there’s something there, because this term ‘sexual assault’ has been bandied about, and I will tell you as somebody who's worked with and certainly has in my life, as I’m sure we all do, victims of sexual assault, it demeans them to equate that with this for political purposes.”
Conway added that in her estimation, Trump had been sufficiently contrite in a video statement released Friday night and in his debate performance Sunday in St. Louis. Like vice presidential nominee Mike Pence did in his own statement, Conway refused to offer any defense of Trump’s 2005 remarks but did downplay them as words and not deeds.
"So I will first tell you that my reaction was a combination of what Gov. Pence and Melania Trump and Donald Trump have said about his comments. I too found them to be unacceptable and offensive and nobody is here to defend them, including Donald Trump,” Conway said. “He apologized on Friday in a video post that everybody can see. Those are his words and he again repeated that last night, said that he hated it. He was embarrassed. He apologized for it and then he also said the difference between words and actions, and talked about that very important distinction.”