‘He did not say the word “sexual assault”’, ‘I think that’s a stretch’ and ‘I’m not a lawyer’ among excuses trotted out by aides and surrogates about lewd commentsMolly Redden Monday 10 October 2016
The 2005 tape of Donald Trump bragging that his celebrity status allowed him to grope women with abandon has sent the Republican party reeling. But on Sunday night, the top spokespeople for the GOP and the Trump campaign had recovered their wits long enough to dispute whether Trump was actually describing a “sexual assault” in the 11-year-old recording.
“That’s a very unfortunate phrase, and people really should stop using it,” Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told CNN’s Dana Bash. “He did not say the word ‘sexual assault’.”
Separately, longtime Trump supporter Senator Jeff Sessions told the conservative magazine Weekly Standard that he wouldn’t characterize unwanted touching and kissing as sexual assault. “I think that’s a stretch,” he said.
“I don’t know,” said Sean Spicer, the GOP’s top spokesperson, in reply to the same question. “I’m not a lawyer.”
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Sessions followed up with the Guardian to say that the Weekly Standard “did not properly characterize” Sessions’ position.
“My hesitation was based solely on confusion of the contents of the 2005 tape and the hypothetical posed by the reporter,” the senator said in a statement.
“Of course it is crystal clear that assault is unacceptable. I would never intentionally suggest otherwise.”
The spokesperson has not responded to a follow-up asking Sessions to clarify whether he thinks Trump’s comments in the recording describe sexual assault.
Their remarks came just three days after the tape of Trump sent shockwaves through the Republican party and a few hours before the House speaker, Paul Ryan, without withdrawing his earlier endorsement, announced he would no longer come to Trump’s defense.
The tape, recorded while Trump and NBC host Billy Bush rode a bus to the set of Access Hollywood, captured Trump making lewd comments about actor Arianne Zucker – and women in general – while Bush egged him on.
Continue reading at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/10/sexual-assault-definition-trump-comments