UPDATED with additional details: Billy Bush egged on Donald Trump to make those remarks about being so famous he can kiss and grope women with impunity in that 2005 Access Hollywood tape, Melanie Trump said tonight.
“I was surprised, because that is not the man that I know. And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mic,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on. Because they were kind of — ah — boy talk. And he was lead on. Like egg on from the host, to say, uh, dirty and bad stuff.”
“You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?” Cooper asked.
“Yes. Yes,” Melania responded.
Asked whether that was language she had previously heard her husband use (Trump made the remarks on the tape shortly after he and Melania were married), she responded, “No, no, that’s why I was surprised. Because I said like I don’t know that person that would talk that way. And that he would say that kind of stuff in private.”
“I heard many different stuff, boys talk,” she said in the interview. “The boys that’s the way they talk when they grow up and they want to sometimes show each other…they say this and that and talking about the girls. I was surprised, of course.”
Asked if she agreed with her husband’s characterization of the conversation as “locker room talk,” she agreed. “Yes, two teenaged boys. Actually, they should behave better.” Cooper noted her husband was 59 at the time of the tape; Billy Bush was 34.
“Sometimes I said I have two boys at home; I have my young son and I have my husband. But I know how some men talk.”
Melania Trump said she was “not surprised that the tape came out.”
“It was the media, it was NBC, it was Access Hollywood. It was left wing media,” she said. “You could see that and the way is comes out – everything was organized. Every Friday something comes out.”
She chastised TV news networks for playing the tape “hour after hour.”
“I watch TV, it was hour after hour bashing him because they want to influence the American people how to vote and they are influencing in the wrong way.”
“[NBC] knew about it a long time ago,” she said, suggesting the timing of the tape’s release was held back to accomplish maximum damage to his campaign.
NBC News announced this evening it has parted ways with Billy Bush, The former Access Hollywood host had been hired to co-host the 9 AM hour of Today just this past May. NBC News suspended Bush two days after the tape was published.
In his interview, Cooper noted First Lady Michelle Obama recently gave a speech saying Donald Trump’s hot-mic conversation with Bush in that Access Hollywood tape was not just a lewd conversation or locker room banter but “a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior.”
Melania Trump disagreed. “No, that’s not sexual assault. He didn’t say he did it,” she insisted. She added that she sees “many women coming up to [Trump] and giving the phone numbers and want to work for him, or inappropriate stuff from women. And they know he’s married.”
“It was in front of me,” she said. ” I’m very strong. People think and talk about me like, ‘Oh, Melania, poor Melania’.”
“Don’t feel sorry for me. I can handle everything.”