Former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani struggled to defend Donald Trump against suggestions of sexual harassment and assault during uncomfortable interviews Sunday morning, amid the uproar over a 2005 video in which Trump made lewd comments and suggested he could grab women against their will because he is a celebrity.
“You're saying that the words are wrong. How about the actions?” Chuck Todd asked Giuliani on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Well, the actions would be even worse if they were actions. Talk and action are two different things,” Giuliani said.
“I'm not implying it was made up. I said we're talking about things that he was talking about. I don't know how much he was exaggerating; I don't know how much is true,” Giuliani added. “I certainly don't know the details of it. But I do know that this is unfortunately the kind of talk that goes on among a lot of people and they shouldn't talk about this.”
Giuliani was pressed on that point during a separate interview on ABC’s “This Week.” During that conversation, Giuliani appeared to acknowledge that Trump’s description during the conversation suggested sexual assault.
“The problem isn't just the words. As both Senator McCain and Vice President Biden pointed out, what Trump is describing in that tape is sexual assault,” George Stephanopoulos told Giuliani on ABC’s “This Week.”
“That's what he's talking about. Whether it happened or not, I don't know. How much exaggeration was involved in that, I don't know. I do know there's a tendency on the part of some men at different times to exaggerate things like this. I'm not in any way trying to excuse it and condone it,” Giuliani responded.
Giuliani also signaled that Trump had not ruled out using Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities to attack Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate. Meanwhile, Trump once again tweeted Sunday morning about Juanita Broaddrick, whose accusation that the former president raped her in 1978 was never litigated in criminal court and has been denied by the Clintons. Trump also appeared to lash out at politicians on social media who were critical of his lewd remarks.
During a tense exchange on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper tore into the defense that Trump had merely engaged on “locker room” talk. Giuliani at one point suggested that many others have had similar conversations, which Tapper aggressively dismissed.
“First of all, I don’t know that he did that to anyone. This is talk, and, gosh almighty, he who hasn’t sinned cast the first stone here,” Giuliani told Tapper.
Tapper responded tersely: “I will gladly tell you, Mr. Mayor, I have never said that, I have never done that. I am happy to throw a stone. I don’t know any man, I’ve been in locker rooms, I've been a member of a fraternity. I have never heard any man, ever, brag about being able to maul women because they get away with it. Never.”
Giuliani said on “Meet the Press” that Trump would definitely attend Sunday night's debate and that he is “as prepared as he's ever been.” He said that Trump feels bad and that he'd like to move beyond the controversy to turn his attention to an issue-focused campaign.
Asked by Todd if Trump would bring up Bill Clinton’s infidelities, Giuliani initially said that he believed Trump would not. But he volunteered that he believed “Hillary Clinton's situation” — her role in questioning the character of the women who her husband had affairs with — was on the table to an incredulous Todd.
“What I'm talking about, the things that she has said and that have been reported in various books and magazines and other places about the women that Bill Clinton raped, sexually abused and attacked. Not Bill Clinton's role, but her role as the attacker,” Giuliani said.
The former New York City mayor dismissed questions about whether last-minute changes to the campaign’s TV surrogates Sunday morning. Originally, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus were supposed to appear on the shows.
“I don’t think anyone was going to defend his remarks. Is Kellyanne still a very strong supporter of Donald Trump,” Giuliani said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think this is a question of scheduling, not being willing to explain.”
Giuliani said that Trump was embarrassed by the comments.
“I think when he heard them, he was shocked. I'm not going to say that he didn't remember them, but they probably weren't at the top of his mind. And when he was confronted with it, he was pretty darn shocked that he had said such terrible things, and he feels terrible about it,” Giuliani said on “Meet the Press.” “He feels terrible for his family and how embarrassing it is for them; he feels terrible from his own point of view. But he also realizes he has a responsibility. And I think the last 14 months have driven that into him.”