U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that women who have come forward with sexual harassment complaints against President Donald Trump should feel empowered to speak out.
“They should be heard and they should be dealt with. And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up,” Haley said Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation.
Haley’s comments deviate from those made by her administration colleagues. Trump has denied the allegations, which has reverberated through the administration. When asked in October if the White House still thought Trump’s accusers were lying, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded, “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the President has spoken on it.”
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Haley’s comments about her boss came after she said she was “incredibly proud” of the women who had come forward with allegations of sexual harassment against Sen. Al Franken, Congressman John Conyers and Congressman Trent Franks, all of whom announced their resignation in the last week.
But Trump has succeeded electorally despite similar allegations. During the 2016 campaign, after the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he was heard bragging about groping women, at least 10 women accused Trump of sexual harassment allegations. One of the accusers, Summer Zervos, who said Trump assaulted her on The Apprentice in 2007, filed a defamation lawsuit saying that Trump made false statements about her during the 2016 election. Trump’s lawyer is arguing to have the case dismissed, but the judge has yet to make a decision in that regard.
Trump’s virtual immunity in this area has not gone unnoticed.
“I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,” Franken said during his resignation speech Thursday.
Haley demurred when asked if Trump’s election meant the sexual harassment allegations against him were a settled issue.
“That’s for the people to decide. I know that he was elected. But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them,” she said.