WASHINGTON – Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Sunday that the women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard,” a break from the administration’s assertions that the allegations have no merit and should be dismissed.
In response to questions on CBS’ “Face the Nation” about the allegations, Haley said that while ultimately the decision on Trump lies with voters, “women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.”
In discussing the growing number of women coming forward with stories of sexual misconduct by an array of powerful men, Haley said there should be no differentiation in how they are treated, regardless of whom they are accusing.
“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Haley added. “And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual harassment, claims that he recently dismissed as “totally fake news” and “made-up stuff.” The president is seeking to block a defamation lawsuit filed by one of his accusers in the New York State Supreme Court.
Asked in October if the administration’s official position was that the women were lying, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, echoed the president’s statements. “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” she said.
Haley, an ambitious former governor of South Carolina who has previously been floated as a potential replacement for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has cast herself as someone capable of influencing the president on topics ranging from Russia sanctions to refugee resettlement.
The accusations against Trump have received renewed attention in recent weeks after allegations of sexual misconduct have derailed the careers of powerful public figures across the country, including Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn.