WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump on Wednesday quickly responded to the abrupt firing of longtime “Today” show host Matt Lauer after a sexual misconduct allegation, attacking NBC with his favorite anti-media smear.
Trump has been quick to seize on sexual misconduct allegations against others when it doesn’t hurt him politically. He went after Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) less than a day after news anchor Leeann Tweeden said Franken groped and inappropriately kissed her.
But when allegations touch an ally ― or himself ― Trump turns away. The president repeatedly dodged questions about Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused by multiple women of preying on teenage girls when he was district attorney and in his 30s.
When Trump finally weighed in on Moore ― nearly two weeks after the first accounts of the candidate’s past ― the president wouldn’t say whether he believed the women. Moore “totally denies it,” Trump said.
And now, Trump is trying to cast doubt on recorded evidence of misconduct: the infamous 2005 “Access Hollywood” video that caught him bragging about sexually assaulting women to the show’s host, Billy Bush.
The New York Times reported this week that in the year since his election, the president has privately claimed that the tape was fabricated. During the campaign, after the tape surfaced, Trump acknowledged his lewd remarks and issued a rare apology — though he tried to downplay the boasts as “locker room talk.”
NBC fired Bush after the release of the tape.
Weeks later, Trump was elected president.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders this week pointed to Trump’s victory, dodging reporters’ questions about whether he believes the tape is fake.
“This was litigated and certainly answered during the election by the overwhelming support for the president and the fact that he’s sitting here in the Oval Office today,” Sanders said Monday. “He’s made his position on that clear at that time, as have the American people.”