Melania Trump has dismissed her husband’s sexually aggressive language as “boy talk”, insisting his remarks do not reflect “the man I know” and saying she does not believe he has assaulted any women.
In a series of interviews, the wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said she had accepted her husband’s apology and the couple was “moving on”.
The comments come more than a week after the release of a 2005 video in which Mr Trump brags about kissing women and grabbing their genitals without their permission.
“I said to my husband that, you know, the language is inappropriate. It’s not acceptable. And I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know,” his wife told CNN.
She suggested that Mr Trump may not have known his microphone was on, calling it “kind of a boy talk” that Access Hollywood host Billy Bush was encouraging.
And she suggested that the women who have claimed in recent days that Mr Trump made unwanted advances were attention seekers who were making “damaging and unfair” accusations.
“I believe my husband,” she said in the interview shown on Monday night. “My husband didn’t do anything.”
Mrs Trump also said it was fair game for her husband to appear with women who had accused former president Bill Clinton of sexual assault, claiming the Democrats fired the first volley into the increasingly ugly war about the couples’ private lives.
“They’re asking for it. They started. They started from the beginning of the campaign putting my picture from modeling days,” she said in excerpts released by Fox News. “That was my modelling days and I’m proud what I did. I worked very hard.”
Mrs Trump’s image was used in a negative ad campaign during the Republican primary, but there is no evidence that the Clintons were involved. At the time, Donald Trump accused former rival Ted Cruz of being involved and responded by tweeting an unflattering image of the Texas senator’s wife. Mr Cruz also denied involvement.
The interviews are Mrs Trump’s first moments in the public eye since the accusations over the last 10 days that have sent her husband’s White House bid reeling.
First there was a 2005 video leaked of Mr Trump using vulgar language to describe women and apparently boasting of sexual assault. And in recent days, several women have come forward to say that Mr Trump had groped or sexually assaulted them.
The billionaire property tycoon has denied the claims, calling the women liars and belittling their appearances.
In the interviews, Mrs Trump deemed the celebrity businessman’s comments on the leaked tape “offensive to me and they were inappropriate”.
“And he apologised to me,” she said in an interview with CNN, showing at the same time the crowd at her husband’s rally in Wisconsin was chanting “CNN sucks”.
“And I expect – I accept his apology. And we are moving on.”
She said something similar in a statement released by the campaign after the video’s release. She has also demanded retractions from a People Magazine writer who profiled the couple in 2005 and last week accused Mr Trump of an assault at the couple’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, while his wife was out of the room.
And she repeated her husband’s assertion, which he makes without supporting evidence, that the media and the Clinton campaign were working in tandem to sink the Republican nominee’s campaign.
Mrs Trump, whose husband frequently uses social media to attack opponents, also suggested that, as first lady, she could be interested in leading an effort to combat bullying and negativity on social media.
She told CNN she was worried about its impact on children and was concerned that her 10-year-old son Barron would be exposed to tough talk on Twitter and other platforms.
Mrs Trump has never filled the role of the traditional political spouse, making only rare appearances on the campaign trail. Her speech at July’s national convention was initially praised until it was discovered that passages of it were lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention address.
Mr Trump, who attended each of the first two presidential debates, was also lampooned on this week’s Saturday Night Live.
The long-running sketch show ran a video in which actresses playing Melania Trump, her two step-daughters and two of the candidate’s most visible female allies did a version of Beyonce’s feminist manifesto Lemonade in an act of rebellion against the candidate.
The video ends with the Cecily Strong, the comedian playing Mrs Trump, suggesting she wrote the song herself.
Meanwhile Mr Trump continued to deny the claims against him, saying “it would be very easy to apologise” to a woman who accused him of sexual assault but he would not do anything that seemed like an admission of guilt.
“You can’t apologise for an event that never took place,” he told Fox News. “These events never took place.”