NEW YORK • Mrs Melania Trump, who has been all but invisible as her husband confronts a campaign crisis over allegations that he sexually assaulted women, has emerged to forcefully defend him and question the honesty of the women making the accusations.
Mrs Trump, in an extensive interview with CNN's Mr Anderson Cooper, said the women who had accused Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump of groping and kissing them were lying, and likened her husband to a teenage boy who engages in macho boasting.
"I believe my husband, I believe my husband - it was all organised from the opposition," she said. "They can never check the background of these women. They don't have any facts."
Her appearance comes as Mr Trump and his aides grapple with the worst stretch of the campaign, after the airing 10 days ago of an Access Hollywood recording from 2005 that captured Mr Trump bragging to the host, Mr Billy Bush, that he kisses women without invitation and that he can grab women's genitals because he is a "star".
Mrs Trump, 46, called that exchange "boy talk" and said Mr Trump had been "egged on" by the host "to say dirty and bad stuff".
Her remarks got flak on Twitter, where #BillyBushMadeMeDoIt hashtag began trending as users took potshots at her for blaming Mr Bush for her husband's comments. "So much for the bedrock conservative principal of personal responsibility... #BillyBushMadeMeDoIt," said one user.
Mrs Trump stressed in the interview that she believed that Mr Trump was simply being boastful and did not engage in the behaviour he described. "Sometimes I say I have two boys at home - I have my young son, and I have my husband," she said with a slight laugh. "But I know how some men talk, and that's how I saw it, yes."
Mr Trump's aides have been eager for his wife to make a public show of support for him but Mrs Trump has never enjoyed the political stage and was stung by media coverage in July, when it was revealed that her anticipated Republican National Convention speech borrowed lines from First Lady Michelle Obama's 2008 address to the Democratic National Convention. She has been largely absent from the campaign trail since.
Seated in the family's penthouse atop Trump Tower, she seemed occasionally ill at ease but determined to convey that her husband is a gentleman, that the media is out to get him and that she is staying strong despite the ugliness.
She also said her husband was approached by many women who were sexually forward with him. "And they know he's married."
She also said she had withdrawn from her social media accounts. "I see the negativity, and it's not healthy," she said. But when asked whether she has advised the same to her husband, a frequent Twitter user who often attacks others on his feed, she replied: "That's his decision. He's an adult."