The Slatest

How Trump’s Squirming Supporters Tried to Spin the New York Times Report

Jerry Falwell Jr. said he’d vote for Trump even if the allegations against him were true.

Screenshot/CNN via Sling TV

Donald Trump surrogate A.J. Delgado was livid at the news about the Republican presidential candidate. “As a woman, to be frank with you, I’m livid at having read this,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes in a phone interview Wednesday evening, not long after the New York Times had published a story about two women who’d been subjected to Trump’s “sexual aggression.”

Livid, that is, at the New York Times. “Not only are these accusations simply not credible,” Delgado continued, “but it’s disgusting that the New York Times is trivializing sexual assault this way. I take great offense to that as a woman.”

Hayes wondered how Delgado could be so certain, within hours of the Times’ report, that the women were not telling the truth about Trump’s sexual misconduct. Delgado’s response: “If somebody actually did that, Chris, any reasonable woman would have come forward and said something at the time.”

Oddly, Delgado later denied saying exactly this on Twitter, which—well, I’ll let you be the judge.

To be fair, defending Trump regardless of the situation is Delgado’s job. Not so for the other Trump defenders who went on TV on Wednesday night and tried their hand at spinning the Times story. What’s Jeffrey Lord’s excuse? And what in God’s name is Jerry Falwell Jr.’s?

Lord, the conservative commentator and a former member of the Reagan administration, appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss the latest allegations of sexual misconduct. As it turns out, Lord took offense at the New York Times report as well, on the grounds that—no joke—the victim had failed to discuss Juanita Broaddrick in the course of telling her story. Cooper just stared for a moment in befuddlement.

A little later, Cooper asked Lord why he believed Broaddrick but not Trump’s accusers. Lord’s response was that of a man approaching the limits of his shamelessness.

Later in the same discussion, Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany confidently dismissed the sexual assault reports as “he-said, she-said accusations.” Which I suppose is true, in a way: Trump said on the leaked video that he gropes women without their consent. And now women are saying the same thing.

Oh, and don’t get Trump’s supporters started on the armrests in first-class airline cabins.

But the night’s real winner in the misguided-Trump-loyalty sweepstakes may have been Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and a prominent figure in the religious right. Pressed by CNN’s Erin Burnett to say whether he would still vote for Trump if the allegations proved true, he attempted a dodge, saying, “I can’t answer a hypothetical.” Burnett wasn’t having it. Asked again, point-blank, whether he’d vote for Trump if it was true he had a record of molesting women, Falwell—president of the world’s largest Christian university—said that he would.

I predict he finds himself in the moral minority on that one.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.