South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivers the State of the State in the House chambers at the South Carolina Statehouse, Jan. 20, 2016, in Columbia, S.C.
Photo by Sean Rayford/AP

Top cabinet official says Trump’s accusers deserve to be heard

Updated

As recently as late October, Donald Trump chief spokesperson said it’s the official position of the White House that each of the women who accused the president of sexual misconduct was lying. A top Trump administration official said something quite different yesterday.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual impropriety have a right to be heard.

Haley, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” broke from the Trump administration line on the 16 sexual misconduct allegations that face the president. The White House has said that the women who have accused Trump were lying …. But when asked whether she thought the matter was settled, Haley said “that’s for the people to decide.”

“Women should always feel comfortable coming forward,” Haley said. “And we should all be willing to listen to them.” Asked specifically about the women who’ve accused her boss, the ambassador added, “Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with.”

Haley and Trump haven’t always been on the same page this year, but this seemed like a break with the White House line.

This comes on the heels of a story from Friday in which Juliet Huddy, a former Fox News host, said Trump tried to kiss her after a lunch visit in 2005.

“He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two. He said goodbye to me in an elevator while his security guy was there, rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. I wasn’t offended, I was kind of like, ‘Oh my god,’” she said.

It’s worth noting for context that Trump, in the infamous “Access Hollywood” recording, said in 2005, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women – 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.”

Naturally, this story and others like it have led some of the president’s Democratic critics to make the case that Trump shouldn’t be treated any differently than Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who announced last week that he’s resigning from the Senate. The Washington Post reported:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and two of his Democratic colleagues have suggested that President Trump should consider resigning, after a run of sexual-harassment scandals has driven out some members of Congress.

Sen. Al Franken “felt it proper for him to resign,” Sanders said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday morning, referring to the Democrat from Minnesota. “Here you have a president who has been accused by many women of assault, who says on a tape that he assaulted women. He might want to think about doing the same.”

Sanders’s comment, which built on a tweet he sent last week, came after Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) suggested that the “#MeToo moment” should prompt another look at the women who accused Trump of sexual harassment during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Though the wording for each was slightly different, Merkley seemed to go the furthest, telling MSNBC, “The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct.”

At least so far, Trump himself hasn’t said anything in response. Recent history suggests that won’t last.

Donald Trump and Nikki Haley

Top cabinet official says Trump's accusers deserve to be heard

Updated