UN ambassador Nikki Haley says Trump’s accusers ‘should be heard’
WASHINGTON — Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday that women who have accused President Trump of touching or groping them without their consent ‘‘should be heard.’’
Haley’s comments diverged from the White House position on the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of misconduct. Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said the White House’s position is that the women are lying and that the American people settled the issue by electing Trump, despite the accusations.
Haley was asked Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether she considered the allegations a ‘‘settled issue,’’ given last year’s election results.
‘‘That’s for the people to decide,’’ she said. “I know that he was elected. But, you know, women should always feel comfortable coming forward. And we should all be willing to listen to them.’’
Haley’s comments highlighted a challenge facing Republicans as a cultural revolution on the topic of sexual harassment sweeps the country.
Republicans have seized on allegations of wrongdoing by Democrats, including Representative John Conyers of Michigan and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who last week announced they would resign.
Republicans also have castigated liberals over high-profile allegations against figures in Hollywood and the media, including movie producer Harvey Weinstein, a onetime Hillary Clinton donor and ally.
But most have not shown similar outrage when allegations have been made against prominent Republicans, notably Trump and Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
Haley spoke about Trump’s accusers after praising women who have come forward with allegations about powerful men in various other industries. Dickerson asked her how ‘‘people should assess the accusers of the president.’’
‘‘They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,’’ Haley responded. ‘‘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.’’
Trump has been sued for defamation in New York by one of his accusers, Summer Zervos, a former contestant on ‘‘The Apprentice’’ who says Trump groped and kissed her in a hotel room in 2007 during a meeting to discuss a job opportunity.
She says Trump defamed her when he dismissed her account and called her and the other accusers liars. A judge is weighing whether to allow that case to proceed.
Haley’s comments contrasted with those of other Republicans, who have defended Trump, noting that the public elected Trump even knowing about allegations from multiple woman against him.
On NBC’s ‘‘Meet the Press’’ on Sunday, Senator Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, said that ‘‘to re-litigate the election is impossible.’’
‘‘The allegations or the accusations against the president were a part of the campaign,’’ Scott said. ‘‘Should people who were victimized have their day in court, their opportunity to present their information? I have no problem with that issue.’’
Democrats have continued to press the subject, with some beginning to argue Trump should resign, as others have in the face of such allegations.
‘‘Al Franken felt it proper for him to resign,’’ Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, said on ‘‘Meet the Press’’ on Sunday morning. ‘‘Here you have a president who has been accused by many women of assault, who says on a tape that he assaulted women. He might want to think about doing the same.’’
Sanders’s comment, which built on a tweet he had sent last week, came after two Democratic senators, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey, said the nation’s ‘‘#MeToo moment’’ should prompt another look at the women who accused Trump of sexual harassment during the 2016 presidential campaign.
‘‘The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct,’’ Merkley said last week in an interview for the weekday version of ‘‘Meet the Press.’’
On Saturday, during a campaign swing to support the Democrat in Alabama’s US Senate race, Booker told Vice News the standard that brought down Franken should be applied to the president.
‘‘I just watched Senator Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office,’’ Booker said. ‘‘My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken.’’
During the 2016 campaign, more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual harassment, claims that he recently dismissed as “totally fake news” and “made-up stuff.”