During an MSNBC interview on Saturday morning, Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said that the Trump White House “stands with women, unmistakably.”
Less than an hour later, Trump completely undercut McEnany’s talking point with a tweet in which he defended men accused of sexual assault.
“Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation,” Trump said, alluding to two White House staffers who departed this week amid accusations of domestic assault.
McEnany’s MSNBC appearance came the morning after Trump praised Rob Porter, the former top White House aide who was publicly accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives this week. Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness, provided media outlets with a photo of her with a black eye she said Porter gave her in 2005, while his second, Jennifer Willoughby, said she got a restraining order against Porter after they separated. Apparently, Trump does not find that evidence persuasive.
During his comments on Friday, the president completely ignored Porter’s alleged victims and emphasized that he “says he’s innocent and you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent.”
Saturday morning, MSNBC host Alex Witt asked McEnany if she understands “why some people are upset at the president because he didn’t acknowledge the women or the abuse that they allegedly took.”
“Absolutely not,” McEnany replied. “This is a president that’s hired women at record rates, he appreciates women, he’s empowered them throughout his administration.”
Witt pushed back, pointing out that Trump’s staffing decisions aside, “there seems to be a tone deafness” involved in responding to abuse allegations by praising the abuser and ignoring the victims.
Later, Witt brought up the broader context in which the president is defending an alleged abuser — Trump himself denies each of the 14 sexual assault allegations against him, but has been recorded bragging about grabbing women by the genitals without their consent.
But McEnany disputed Witt’s contention that the Access Hollywood is evidence of Trump admitting to wrongdoing.
“That was not an admission of anything, that was locker room talk,” McEnany said, alluding to the term Trump used to dismiss the significance of the recording during the campaign
Witt closed by asking McEnany if she’s “comfortable with the tenor of the things that have been said and done by this president.”
“Just looking at the Access Hollywood tape — I mean, that is irrefutable, despite the fact that he tried to question whether or not it is a legitimate tape,” Witt added.
But McEnany wouldn’t budge. She again dismissed the tape as “words” that Trump “apologized for,” before insisting that “this is a White House that stands with women, unmistakably.”
“I understand that people want to go back to the past and relitigate a campaign issue, but the fact is the American people elected Donald Trump as president of the United States and his administration has stood for women.”
Minutes later, however, Trump signaled that he believes the real victim in the Rob Porter scandal is Porter himself — not the women he allegedly abused.