Donald Trump's wife finally broke a long silence — outside of written statements — to speak on CNN about the Access Hollywood tape where he bragged about touching and kissing women without their consent and the subsequent sexual assault allegations that emerged. Trump has denied all of the allegations. As the transcript of the Melania Trump & Anderson Cooper CNN interview shows, Melania will always excuse her husband's comments.
Throughout the interview, Melania gave excuses for Trump's comments, including that the man on the tape wasn't the man she knew, that it was boys talk, that it was all Billy Bush's fault for egging him on. When asked by Cooper about Trump disparaging the appearance of a woman who accused him — he said that a woman who accused him of sexual assault "would not be my first choice" — Melania said, "Well, that's him. He's raw."
Melania also talked about raising her son Barron and why she keeps off the campaign trail, what she'd want to do as first lady — ironically, educate kids about social media, because there's a lot of bulling that happens — and about why she's not ashamed of the photos that were taken of her when she was a model.
Below is the transcript of the interview. It has been lightly edited for grammar.
Anderson Cooper: This has obviously been a difficult time. How are you holding up? How are you doing?
Melania Trump: I'm great. I'm very strong, I'm very confident, and I live my life. I take care of myself, and of our son and my husband, and I'm doing great.
AC: When you came down that escalator more than a year ago, the day your husband announced the campaign, did you ever expect all this stuff would come out, these allegations would be made, that you would have to be sitting here defending him?
MT: I never thought about that, but I'm not surprised in one way, because a lot of people, they are against my husband, and he's running for president, so nothing surprises me.
AC: It's gotta be hard though. It's gotta be a difficult thing.
MT: In one way it's hard because, press, it's very dishonest, and it's a lot of lies that they've written, also about me, as my husband. And you need to defend yourself all the time. As you may have heard, I filed a few lawsuits, and I'm in the court now, because they have accused me of doing stuff that I have never did in my life, and they wrote lies, and I will not allow that. I will fight in the end, because I don't want to damage my reputation and my name.
AC: It was 10 days ago that Access Hollywood released that tape, I'm wondering when you first saw it, when you first heard it, what did you think?
MT: I said to my husband that the language is inappropriate, it's not acceptable, and I was surprised because that is not the man that I know. And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mic, and I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on, because they were kind of a boy talk, and he was led on, like egged on, from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.
AC: You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?
MT: Yes. yes.
AC: Is that sort of language you've heard him use before?
MT: No, no that's why I was surprised because I said like, "I don't know that person that would talk that way," and that he would say that kind of stuff in private. I heard many different stuff, boys talk, the boys that the way they talk when they grow up and they wanna, sometimes show each other oh this and that and talking about the girls. But, yeah I was surprised, of course. But I was not surprised that the tape came out. I was not surprised about that.
MT: Because as I said, it's many people from the opposite side that they want to damage the campaign. And why now, why after so many years? Why three weeks before the election?
AC: Your husband has said, maybe, that he felt the Clintons had something to do with it, or the media. What do you think?
MT: Well, it was the media, it was NBC, it was Access Hollywood, and it was left-wing media. And you could see that, and the way it comes out is, everything was organized. Every Friday, every Friday, something comes out, so they play, they play, they play, and it was hour after hour. I watched TV with hour after hour bashing him, because they want to influence the American people how to vote, and they are influencing in the wrong way.
AC: The information about your husband's 1995 taxes were released right before the debate, the first debate, and then this came out just days before the second debate, you're saying that's not a coincidence?
MT: No, that was all organized. Yes, they planned that way, because they don't want to talk, the position doesn't want to talk about about Wikileaks and the emails and Benghazi and all the rest of the stuff. They don't want to talk about it, so they said let's do something so we will hurt his campaign.
AC: The Washington Post released the tape, NBC had it, said they had it, for several days and were reviewing, but you believe it NBC could have released it, that they knew about it long ago?
MT: Yes, they knew long time ago. And I'm sure they did. And The Washington Post, when did we hear or read any great stories about my husband or about me? The true stuff. The facts. The real stuff. Or The New York Times. We never read, they bashing, bashing, bashing.
AC: You feel they've been very unfair?
AC: Your husband said that he apologized to you after the tape and that you accepted the apology. What was that conversation like, can you talk about it?
MT: Well, when we talk in private, I will keep it private. And, he apologized. I accept his apology; I hope the American people will accept it as well. It was many many years ago. He's not the man that I know, and as I many times said, and he said it as well, it's very hard, especially for him, when he decided to run for presidency, because he did so many stuff in his life. He was on so many tapes, so many shows, and we knew that, that tapes will come out, people will want to go against him. But my husband is real, he's raw, he tells it as it is. He's kind, he's a gentleman. He supports everybody — he supports women, he encourages them to go to the highest level, to achieve their dreams, he employs many many women. And as you can see, it's a lot of backlash on the media and they way they treated him.
AC: He described it as locker room talk, to you, you've sort of alluded to that, is that what it is to you as well? Just locker room talk?
MT: Yeah, it's kind of two teenage boys, actually they should behave better, right?
AC: He was 59.
MT: Correct. And sometimes I said I have two boys at home, I have my young son and my husband, so, but I know how some men talk, and that's how I saw it, yes.
AC: Michelle Obama, who you I know have spoken positively of in the past, she said last week about what your husband said on that tape, she said "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. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women..." In terms of what he actually said on the tape, I'm not saying he did it, the behavior he described, to you, is that sexual assault?
MT: No, that's not sexual assault. He didn't say he did it. And I see many women coming to him and giving phone numbers and you know, want to work for him or inappropriate stuff from women, and they know he's married.
AC: You've seen that?
MT: Oh yes, of course. It was in front of me.
AC: In front of you?
MT: In front of me. And I said, like, why do you need to give your number to my husband? I'm very strong. People, they don't really know me, people think and talk about me, like, "Oh Melania, oh poor Melania." Don't feel sorry for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I can handle everything. And for people talking like that, I see in the press a lot, almost like celebrities or people they think they're celebrities, I would suggest to them to look at themselves in the mirror and to look at their actions and to take care of their own families.
AC: In terms of what Michelle Obama was saying, she was saying that essentially any unwanted advance toward a woman, kissing a woman, touching a woman without consent, that's the definition.
MT: Yes, I agree with that, but every assault should be taken care of in a court of law. And to accuse — no matter who it is a man or woman — without evidence, it's damaging and it's unfair.
AC: She went on to say, Michelle Obama, "that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them, and they've said no, but he didn't listen."
MT: Who didn't listen? My husband didn't do anything.
AC: No, no, I think she was just talking general about...
MT: Oh I'm not surprised, I'm not surprised. I mean, she should also look maybe at the people who supported her and what they're doing. So. I'm not surprised she said that.
AC: I know you want your voice to be heard on this. So, a number of women have come forward, they've made allegations against your husband, some of them go back more than 30 years, he has said they're lying. Do you believe him?
MT: I believe my husband. I believe my husband. This was all organized from the opposition. And with the details that they go, did they ever check the background of these women? They don't have any facts, and even the story that came out in People magazine, the writer, she said that my husband took her to the room and started kissing her. She wrote in the same story about me that she saw me on 5th Avenue, and I said to her, "Natasha, how come we don't see you anymore?" I was never friends with her. I would not recognize her.
AC: That never happened.
MT: Never happened. That's why I sent them the letter because it discredited the story.
AC: Right, your lawyer has sent a letter to People magazine saying they have to retract.
MT: Of course, yes. Because it was not true. So, how can we believe her? That never happened. I was never friends with me. I saw her, she interviewed us twice, she came to the wedding, and for that story. That's it. I would not recognize her on the street or ask her why we don't see her anymore. So, that was another thing, like, people come out saying lies and not true stuff.
AC: Has this whole campaign been harder than you've expected? I know you said you came into this with your eyes open, but has it been tougher than you expected?
MT: I didn't expect media would be so dishonest and so mean. I didn't expect that. Also for me, from the beginning, I never had one correct story, one honest story. From New York Post, two days in a row they put me on the cover with the pictures that I did many, many years ago as a model. I'm very proud I did those pictures. I'm not ashamed of my body. I feel very comfortable with myself and with my body, and they were taken for a European French magazine. In Europe, we are proud of the bodies, no matter what size you are. And it was done as art and a celebration of female body. So they put it twice in a row, in that story, they put the date when pictures were taken wrong. They never called me when the pictures were taken.
AC: Right, there were allegations that you were here, that it was much earlier than you were actually here.
MT: Correct, and suddenly it becomes I'm here illegally and I was married before. I said like, "Yeah find me the husband I was married before my husband." So, there were a lot of dishonest stuff. And that surprised me that they would not check the facts and that reporters will just write/ And it surprised me also, because every story, it's a female, it's a female reporter. And thats why they went too far in the website, one of the websites and newspapers, and the blogger as well, I said, This is it. I will fight for myself, I will fight for my name." They cannot damage my name and my reputation, because it's not true. And the names that they're calling me, they're calling my husband, they're calling my family, it's unacceptable.
AC: In defending himself, and your husband has again, categorically said these allegations are all false...
AC: He's made some comments about the way some of the women accusing him look. What do you think about that?
MT: Well that's him. He's raw. He will say it as he feels it. So I know he respects women, but he's defending himself because they are lies.
AC: You have a young son. Is he aware of all of this? How do you, is that a conversation you have to have with your son?
MT: I let him have as normal childhood as possible. We talk a lot, a lot about the campaign, we talk about the language, because I don't allow that he uses that language. He's in that age, and all the boys in that age, yeah, they say some bad words, and it's very normal. They're growing up. But I tell him that there are consequences as well, and he needs to be careful the language he uses. I teach him, I tell him. That's why it was my decision not to be on the campaign trail. I don't listen to anybody about what to do, what to say, when to say it. When to do interviews. If it will be for example, for my husband or the campaign, they would have me on the trail. They wish to have me there, but I made a decision I will be a parent to my — to our boy, our child.
AC: Your husband said last week that you two are stronger today than you ever were before. How do you feel about that?
MT: We always have a great marriage and strong relationship, and he said many times that I'm a rock for the whole family. And yes we are very strong. We are two independent people thinking on their own and have a very open conversation, and I think that's very healthy for the relationship.
AC: The other thing that's being talked a lot about the campaign trail, your husband is saying that he believes the election is rigged, that there are forces trying to rig it, do you feel that as well?
MT: Well I see it how the media is portraying. I see how they're reporting, and how they say what they want to say and what they don't want to say. For example, he makes a speech 45 minutes long, they take a sentence out, and they're going on and on and on about that sentence. Nothing else. And he talks about the issues, and that's what American people want to hear. It's about issues, about jobs, about the future of our country, and that's what he wants to do. He wants to secure our borders, he wants to secure America, he wants to bring jobs back, he wants to bring the economy back, and he's very passionate about American people because he knows he can do that. He's a worker, he's a fighter. Ge is very passionate about it, and he will not give up. He will fight in the end. And he will fight for American people as he is fighting now for himself.
AC: You have one more debate coming up, do you get nervous?
AC: You don't?
MT: No. I always said to him, be you, be yourself, be calm, be focused, stay on the issues. Because American people, they want to hear what you will do for them. Because we discuss many times at home, and I know what this is in his mind and the way he can lead that country.
AC: We're three weeks to the election, if you could let the American people know one thing about your husband, what would it be? Because right now the latest polls show more than 60 percent of people believe your husband made some sort of unwanted advances. What do you want those people to know? What would you say to them?
MT: That my husband is kind, and he's a gentleman, and he would never do that. That everything was organized and put together to hurt him, to hurt his candidacy.
AC: Organized by the opposition...
MT: The opposition.
AC: Media, Clintons.
AC: You think they're working together?
MT: Yes of course.
AC: Last time you and I spoke, you talked about what you would hope to do in the White House. Have you given more thought to that? Where is your thinking right now?
MT: Well, my passion in the same, helping children and helping women. And also, I see now in 21st century, the social media, it's very damaging for the children. We need to guide them and teach them about social media, because I see a lot of negativity on it, and we need to help them. It has some positive effects as well, because this is the life that we live in now, but has a lot of negativity as well. Because I see more and more children being hurt by it.
AC: There's a lot of bullying that goes on.
MT: A lot of bullying. I stopped social media year and a half.
AC: You did?
MT: I did.
AC: For yourself?
MT: For myself. I post some of the stuff, but I'm not posting. I'm not attention seeker, my life is not a photo op. And I decided not to be on social media anymore, because I see the negativity, and it's not healthy.
AC: Do you tell Mr. Trump to not tweet so much?
MT: Yes, but that's his decision. He's an adult, he knows the consequences. I give him many advices, but you know, sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn't. And he will do what he wants to do at the end, as I will do what I want to do.