“That kind of banter goes around all the time,” Carson, a Trump surrogate, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “As I was growing up, people were always trying to talk about their sexual conquests, and trying to make themselves appear, you know, like the Don, you know, Casanova.”
“I’m surprised you haven’t heard that,” he continued. “I really am.”
This framework reimagines Trump boasting about sexual assault as a conversation about consensual, even romantic, exchanges ― a far cry from what Trump actually described.
“I don’t even wait,” Trump told then-”Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about kissing women the first time he met them. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the pussy, you can do anything.”
Addressing Carson, Keilar replied, “I haven’t heard that, and I know a lot of people who have not heard it.”
“Well, maybe that’s the problem,” Carson replied. “Maybe that’s the problem, people have not heard this.”
“Whether they’ve heard it or not,” Carson went on, “the issue is the train that’s going off the cliff. We can come back [to questions about Trump’s character] after we save the country, and we keep the train from going off the cliff.”
“I would welcome, quite frankly, a discussion of morality in this country,” he said, a pivot that sounded almost comical in light of what he had just said to Keilar.
“I think it would be a wonderful thing if we’d bring back our Judeo-Christian values once again,” Carson said. “I think it could do nothing but help us, and I would be all in favor of that.”
Earlier in the interview, Carson had tried excusing Trump’s claim that his celebrity meant he could “grab [women] by the pussy,” by explaining that Trump was a different man in 2005.
“Eleven years ago, he’s a billionaire playboy,” Carson said. “Now he’s running for president of the United States.”
At the time the interaction was recorded, Trump was a 59-year-old father of four whose wife, Melania Trump, was pregnant with his fifth child.
HUFFPOST READERS: What’s happening in your state or district? The Huffington Post wants to know about all the campaign ads, mailers, robocalls, candidate appearances and other interesting campaign news happening by you. Email any tips, videos, audio files or photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.