Mike Pence flip-flops on Trump’s Access Hollywood tape

“What he’s made it clear is that was talk... [but] there were no actions.”

CREDIT: CBS screengrab
CREDIT: CBS screengrab

Mike Pence doesn’t understand why First Lady Michelle Obama can’t get Donald Trump’s brag about sexually assaulting women off her mind.

During an appearance on CBS This Morning on Friday, host Norah O’Donnell asked Trump’s vice presidential nominee to respond to the speech Michelle Obama gave the day before.

In response, Pence said he flat out doesn’t understand Obama’s concern.

“I don’t understand the basis of her claim,” he said. “What he’s made it clear is that was talk, regrettable talk on his part, but that there were no actions, and that he’s categorically denied these latest unsubstantiated allegations.”

The comments came a day after Michelle Obama denounced the comments Trump made in a recently released video from 2005, where he is heard bragging about forcibly kissing and grabbing women.

“This was not just a lewd conversation, this wasn’t just locker room banter, this was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior,” Obama said at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in New Hampshire on Thursday.

But Pence’s claim that Trump’s comments were just “talk” doesn’t hold up, given that in the past week, multiple women have said they were sexually assaulted by Trump.

In the 2005 recording, Trump says, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.” (The most infamous line from the video comes a bit later, when Trump says, “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”)

Former people magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff says Trump forced “his tongue down my throat” when the two were alone in a room in 2005. Rachel Crooks told the New York Times that Trump grabbed her and “kissed me directly on the mouth” that same year. Jessica Leeds told the New York Times that Trump tried to put his hand up her skirt in 1980.

But Pence thinks all Trump’s accusers, including ones that have gone public later in the week, are lying.

“Donald Trump has asserted that all of these recent, unsubstantiated allegations are categorically are false and I do believe him,” Pence said during the CBS appearance.

Host Charlie Rose pressed Pence, asking, “You believe him? That they’re not true. That these women are liars.”

“Yeah,” Pence replied. “The Donald Trump that I’ve come to know, that my family has come to know and spent a considerable amount of time with, is someone who has a long record of not only loving his family, lifting his family up, but employing and promoting women in positions of authority in his company.”

Shortly after the video clip of Trump’s predatory comments went public last Friday, Pence released a statement saying he was “offended by the words and actions described” by Trump and “cannot defend them.” Days later, he’s both downplaying the video as “just words” and defending it.

Three weeks ago, Pence told a gathering of people at a church in Arizona that he’s “old enough to remember back in the last Clinton administration where America really had a debate over whether character mattered to the presidency.”

“We don’t need to have that debate again,” Pence said. “Character matters to the presidency and Donald Trump will bring the highest level of integrity to the highest office in the land. You can count on it.”

In addition to being accused of sexual assault by numerous women, reports emerged this week of Trump telling two 14-year-old girls “ Wow! Just think — in a couple of years, I’ll be dating you” and of Trump, on camera, saying of a 10-year-old: “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”