Don’t cry for Melania Trump. Donald Trump’s wife wants America to know she’s nobody’s pity case and that she not only continues to support her husband, but also knows who is to blame for the avalanche of bad press the GOP candidate has received since Access Hollywood released a video of him making vulgar comments about women. And, no, she isn’t pointing fingers at her husband.
Melania sat down for a rare interview with Anderson Cooper just days before the third and final presidential debate is set to take place in Las Vegas. Cooper cut right to the chase and brought up the video in which her husband is heard saying he grabs women “by the pussy” and describes to Billy Bush how he can’t keep himself from kissing pretty women, even if they haven’t consented. Melania told Cooper she was surprised to hear her husband speak that way because that isn’t language she says he uses, but that she wasn’t shocked that the tape existed or came out.
“It’s hard because the press is dishonest and there’s a lot of lies about me and my husband,” she said. “You need to defend yourself all the time.”
She went on to describe her husband’s language as “inappropriate” and “not acceptable” before heaping blame on Access Hollywood and Bush himself.
“As you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on, only the mic,” Trump said. “I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on. They were kind of — ‘boy talk’ — the host ‘egged on.'” A moment later she clarified her statement for Cooper, speculating that Bush egged Trump on and pushed him to keep up their “boy talk,” a phrase she returned to several times during the interview.
Trump slammed the “opposition” (and later confirmed for Cooper that she was indeed referring to Hillary Clinton and her team) for orchestrating the release of the 2005 video and for even working alongside media outlets like NBC to ensure the tape would play all day, every day, in an effort to sabotage Trump’s campaign.
“Everything was organized,” Trump said. “Hour after hour it played because they want to influence the American people how to vote …. the opposition doesn’t want to talk about WikiLeaks and the emails and Benghazi — they don’t want to talk about it so they said, ‘let’s do something.'”
In the aftermath of the video’s release, the conversation has shifted dramatically, though, and many of the accusations that have been brought forth about Trump’s alleged inappropriate behavior with women can’t be explained away as “boy talk.” To her credit, Melania came fully prepared to tackle questions about whether her husband is a sexual predator — but you might not love her answer.
“No that’s not sexual assault, he didn’t say he did it,” Trump said, adding that she believes every assault should be taken care of in a court of law and that to accuse without evidence is unfair. She is, of course, referring to numerous sexual assault accusations that have been made against Donald by women who say he was sexually inappropriate or aggressive with them. Melania held firm to her belief that Donald did nothing wrong with these women, that the “opposition” organized for them to come forward with their stories, and that the women are not presenting facts.
But then, as if the interview had suddenly turned into a game of One of These Things Is Not Like the Other, there was this: “I’ve seen many women come to him and give their phone numbers, want to work for him,” Trump said. “They know he’s married.”
If we insist on dragging Melania out and asking her to defend her husband and the father of her child, America really can’t expect her to do much more than act as Donald’s strongest advocate and supporter. The only thing we learned from this interview is that Melania is a lot tougher than she looks and has what some might consider outdated (and others might consider erroneous, harmful, and disastrous) ideas about how men sometimes grow up speaking about women. Oh, and that she loves her husband very much and feels he is a victim.
The real issue here is that we continue to put up with two candidates who make one excuse after another for their actions and lies. We continue to be gaslighted by two candidates who have failed at times — often in horrific ways — but who associate apologies and the recognition of failure as a weakness instead of as a strength. And neither of these problems will be resolved in a one-hour special with a candidate’s wife.