White House adviser Kellyanne Conway refused repeatedly to say whether Alabama Republican Roy Moore should step aside in his Senate race over allegations he is a serial child molester.
Conway, who played an essential role in protecting President Donald Trump’s candidacy a year ago when tapes of him describing his pattern of sexual assault nearly sunk his campaign, told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that the allegations are disqualifying if they are true but would not give a clear answer on her view of the charges.
In the process of demurring on Moore’s guilt or innocence, Conway said elected officials who are guilty of sexual assault or harassment should resign — a call to action that would seem to implicate Conway’s boss, who openly bragged about grabbing women and has been accused of sexual assault by numerous former associates.
“I want to be very clear, I want to be explicit here, I denounce that conduct, and if the allegations are true he ought to step aside,” Conway told ABC’s Martha Raddatz during a tense, long exchange about the report that Republican senate candidate Roy Moore (AL) habitually sought the romantic and sexual company of children during his 30s.
“And if the allegations are true about a lot of people, they oughta step aside,” Conway continued. “And some of them are probably holding office right now.”
Conway said the press should pay more attention to Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) ongoing corruption trial. She also invoked former President Bill Clinton (D), who was repeatedly accused of sexual assault and predatory behavior toward women staffers and associates during his political career. The details of the allegations against Clinton from women like Juanita Broaddrick and Paula Jones are getting renewed scrutiny thanks to their parallels to the tactics of confessed serial abusers like Harvey Weinstein, as numerous pundits have noted in recent weeks.
But where Clinton’s alleged history of predation goes, so follows Trump’s. Both men have been accused of sexual assault by multiple women over a course of decades.
“I don’t know the accusers and I don’t know Judge [Roy] Moore. But I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not prosecuting people through the press,” Conway told Raddatz Sunday morning.
With Raddatz repeatedly pressing Conway for a straight answer on whether or not she personally believes the allegations leveled against Moore in reporting that pulls from 30 different source interviews in his state, Trump’s senior communicator demurred.
“I don’t know Leigh Corfman,” Conway said, referring to one of four women who told the Washington Post that Moore touched them while he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. “I believe that both sides are alleging different things here,” she said, before reiterating her call for anyone who’s raped a woman or child to step down from office.
“If there’s anyone currently in public office who’s behaved that way to any girl or any woman, maybe they should step aside. Because in a country of 330 million people we oughta be able to do any of this,” Conway said.
She went on to invoke her own history of speaking out about sexual assault and harassment by powerful men in politics, all without ever acknowledging that she continues to work for a man who bragged on tape about “grab[bing women] by the pussy” because “when you’re a celebrity they let you do it.”
“I tried to raise this issue a year ago, on October 9th, I said explicitly that I had been a victim of people in power,” Conway told Raddatz. “And nobody took me seriously. You know why? Because of who I work for, of whose campaign I was managing.”
The October 9, 2016, comments Conway was referring to followed the bombshell publication of videos showing Trump bragging about groping women he found attractive and getting away with it. Conway insisted her boss was a “gentleman” and praised him for apologizing after he dismissed his comments as “locker-room talk” in a televised debate.
Steve Bannon, then campaign manager for Trump, later told reporters that Conway deserved all the credit for Trump’s candidacy surviving the release of the tapes, which seemed to corroborate in his own words a pattern of assaultive behavior alleged against him by more than a dozen individual women over the years.
“If Kellyanne had not been there when the firestorm hit, I don’t know if we would have made it,” Bannon told the Atlantic in the spring. “She literally became a cult figure during that time period, just because of her relentless advocacy for Trump on TV.”
For her pains, Trump rewarded her by being himself. Four days after Conway’s public defense of her boss as a “gentleman,” Trump mocked the women who have accused him of sexual assault by saying they were too unattractive for him to have bothered with.
“Believe me, she would not be my first choice,” Trump said of one of his many accusers on October 13, 2016.
Conway has now worked in service of Trump’s message and career for 17 months and counting.