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White House tries to defend Trump's double standard on misconduct

Why should claims against Al Franken be investigated, but claims against Donald Trump be ignored? The White House tried to answer that question today.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House, September 12, 2017.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds the daily briefing at the White House, September 12, 2017.

Donald Trump is comfortable weighing in on the controversy surrounding Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), but he's been conspicuously silent about Roy Moore's (R-Ala.) scandal. This morning, Kellyanne Conway said it's because the Moore story, which broke last week, is "eight days old."

Given that the president has brought up last year's election, on average, every five days this year, Conway's argument could use some work.

But the problem extends beyond well Moore. Trump himself has faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, including women who said the president targeted them in ways he bragged about on tape. If Franken is going to face Senate Ethics Committee scrutiny, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today if it'd be fair for the claims against Trump to also be investigated. Not surprisingly, the president's chief spokesperson pushed back.

SANDERS: Look, I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.REPORTER: But how is this different?SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Sen. Franken has admitted wrong doing and the president hasn't. I think that's a very clear distinction.

OK, two things.

First, when "the American people" heard the allegations against Donald Trump last year, and were given a choice in presidential candidates, Trump came in second place -- by nearly 3 million votes. To say that "the American people" chose Trump despite the allegations of sexual misconduct, effectively negating his accusers' claims, is at odds with what actually happened.

Second, Sanders' argument is predicated on a bizarre assumption. Faced with a credible accuser and undeniable evidence, Franken acknowledged wrongdoing and apologized. His accuser has accepted that apology and the Democratic senator will now face additional scrutiny.

To hear the White House press secretary tell it, there should be no comparable scrutiny of the president because he still pretends he's done nothing wrong.

In other words, to hear Sanders tell it, if a man in a position of authority is accused of mistreating women, he shouldn't do as Franken has done. The smarter move, by this White House's standard, is to deny everything, lash out at his accusers, and insist that each of the women are liars -- because investigations are reserved for those who own up to their actions.

Trump World had all day to come up with a good argument. This, evidently, is what they settled on.