Over the weekend, Trump twice defended former Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes’ alleged sexual misconduct and then said “I guess” when asked if he would vote for a Democrat over a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard for Senate.
In an interview for Showtime’s “The Circus,” which was filmed on Friday and aired Sunday night, Trump described Ailes’ incidents of sexual assault as “friendly.”
“I think it’s so sad,” he told Bloomberg Politics’ Co-Managing Editor Mark Halperin. “He’s such a great guy. Roger is I mean, what he’s done on television, is in the history of television, he’s gotta be placed in the top three, or four or five. And that includes the founding of the major networks. So, it’s too bad. I’m sure it was friendly.”
In a separate interview with “Meet the Press,” which also aired Sunday, Trump came to Ailes’ defense once again, insisting that Ailes “helped” the women accusing him of assault.
“I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” he told host Chuck Todd. “And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him. And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him.”
When asked if Ailes was helping advise Trump’s campaign he did not provide a full answer: “Well, I don’t want to comment. But he’s been a friend of mine for a long time.”
On “The Circus” Trump also added, “But when you think about Roger Ailes, in the history of television, there’s really been almost no instances where something like this has been done before.”
However, according to Ailes’ 2014 biography “The Loudest Voice in the Room,” written by Gabriel Sherman, this is not the first allegation of sexual harassment against Ailes. The book details claims from other women, including Randi Harrison. Harrison was in her twenties and looking to be hired as a segment producer and told Ailes his salary offer was too low. “If you agree to have sex with me whenever I want I will add an extra hundred dollars a week,” Ailes reportedly said.
Sherman’s book also reveals that Ailes regularly required on-air female personalities to stop wearing pantsuits and showcase their legs. In one case, Ailes bought a glass anchor desk specifically to show the hosts’ legs.
Gretchen Carlson, who has had a successful career and worked at Fox News for 11 years, filed the sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes. According to Carlson’s lawsuit, “Ailes has unlawfully retaliated against Carlson and sabotaged her career because she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.” Following Carlson’s lawsuit, at least twenty other women came forward alleging sexual misconduct on Ailes’ part as well. Ailes resigned from his position last Thursday.
Trump also talked about David Duke’s bid for the Louisiana Senate on “Meet the Press.” Duke is a former KKK grand wizard who previously expressed his support for the Trump campaign. Duke has credited Trump as being inspiration for his Senate agenda.
“Would you support a Democrat over David Duke if that was what was necessary to defeat him” Todd asked.
“I guess, depending on who the Democrat [is] but the answer would be yes,” Trump said.
He then added, “Look, the answer is, as quick as you can say it Rebuked. Is that okay”
In Duke’s announcement for his political bid, he praisedTrump andhis campaign. “I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” he said. “My slogan remains, ‘America First.’ I’ve always said, ‘Equal rights for all, special interest for none.'”
Trump did not immediately disavow Duke when he initially announced his support for the candidate. In February, Duke said that “voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage.”
When asked about the comments on CNN, Trump said, “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know.”
However, Trump actually referred to Duke by name in a 2000 New York Times article.