On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani gave a novel response to Jessica Leeds, the woman who accused Donald Trump of allegedly groping her “like an octopus” during a first-class flight several decades ago. Trump denied the allegation, telling a New York Times reporter, “None of this ever took place.” Giuliani attempted to defend Trump by explaining that first class cabins are big and by claiming that people would have noticed if there was any groping going on. This is just one of several terrible excuses Trump surrogates have offered while trying to disprove the sexual assault allegations against him.
Giuliani has emerged as one of Trump’s most sycophantic supporters this cycle, and as Chris Christie could tell you, that’s saying something. But “America’s Mayor” is far from the only one: Trump supporters have come out of the woodwork with a plethora of reasons why we shouldn’t pay mind to the at least nine women who’ve accused Trump of groping or kissing them without consent. Trump has denied every claim from each of these women.
Of course, defending a person against multiple sexual assault allegations when that person has boasted on-tape about being able to grope and kiss women without consent isn't the simplest task. But Trump and his team have happily taken up the challenge, and the results have been ... entertaining. Here are just a few of the worst excuses Trump surrogates have trotted out to wave away the recent wave of allegations.
1. Groping Doesn’t Count As Sexual Assault
Republican Senator and Trump supporter Jeff Sessions, who's made racist remarks in the past, defended the GOP nominee against the allegations on the grounds that actually, grabbing a woman’s genitals without her consent isn’t really sexual assault. After the inevitable controversy caused by his remarks, Sessions gave a “clarification” that didn’t refute his original claim. It is still unclear what, in Sessions’ brain, constitutes sexual assault.
2. Trump Wouldn’t Lie
“I can say with certainty that Donald Trump has denied that any of those actions that have been alleged have ever occurred,” Mike Pence said Thursday when asked for his take on the accusations. “And I believe him.” Well, that settles that!
3. True Survivors Of Assault Would Have Come Forward Sooner
Trump foot soldier AJ Delgado trotted out one of the most time-honored and absolute worst excuses: The ol’ “why didn’t these women come forward sooner?” defense, which has been debunked over and over again. For good measure, Delgado claimed that accusing Trump of sexual assault is, itself, “trivializing sexual assault.” Mmmkay.
4. Planes Didn’t Have Moveable Armrests Back Then (They Did)
One of Trump’s accusers claims that he groped her “like an octopus” while the two were allegedly sitting next to each other on a first-class flight decades ago. Trump strongly denied the claims. On CNN, Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson told Don Lemon that commercial flights didn’t have moveable armrests back in the 1980s, so Trump couldn’t possibly have lifted the armrests to grope the woman, as she had claimed he did. Pierson was incorrect: Commercial flights did have movable armrests in the 1980s.
5. They’re Just Doing It For The Fame
When asked to reply to Trump’s accusers, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said that the media creates “an atmosphere...that says, ‘look, if you’re willing to come out and say something, we’ll give you fame, we’ll give you whatever you need.’” Given that one of Trump’s accusers was literally driven from the country out of fear for her life after going public, it's appalling that anyone would suggest that notoriety motivated these women.
6. Presidents Don’t Have To Be Good People
Perhaps one of the most counter-intuitive explanations in defense of Trump against the allegations came from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. In a CNN interview, Falwell said that “our country is going to suffer if we get sidetracked on these rabbit trails about, 'is this person a good person, is that person a good person?,’” adding that “it’s not about that.” All righty, then.
7. I’ve Never Personally Been Groped By Trump
Lastly, we have Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s ostensible campaign manager. Conway said that Trump is “a man that I've been alone with many times, who's never been anything but gracious and gentleman.” Before the Trump accusers came forward, Conway had agreed with Hillary Clinton’s claim that “every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed and supported.” Bustle asked Conway if this means that Trump’s accusers should be believed. She hasn't replied.