The head of the Republican National Committee played down criticism of Donald Trump's character after new reports chronicled his troubling behaviour towards dozens of women and his past habit of impersonating a publicist to boast about his private life.
A visibly uncomfortable Reince Priebus defended Trump in three talk show interviews, arguing that questions about Trump's integrity do not matter to supporters of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee and refusing to say whether they should.
"It's something that Donald Trump is going to have to answer questions in regard to," Priebus said on Fox News.
"All I'm saying, though, is after a year of different stories, nothing applies. ... Listen, I'm not saying it's not legitimate. It's all legitimate. I'm just saying I don't think it's going to affect people's view of who and what Donald Trump represents to them."
Questions about Trump's character are at the forefront as journalists continue to probe his past.
The Washington Post reported that Trump masqueraded as publicists named "John Miller" and "John Barron" in the 1970s, '80s and '90s to brag to journalists about his professional and romantic conquests. (Trump, who testified in a 1990 court case that he occasionally used the name "John Miller," denied the report.)
Then, the New York Times published a 5000-word story on Trump's private interactions with women. Titled "Crossing the Line," the investigation revealed stories of unwelcome advances and unsettling behaviour by Trump towards dozens of women who dated, met or worked with him over several decades.
All I'm saying, though, is after a year of different stories, nothing applies. ... Listen, I'm not saying it's not legitimate. It's all legitimate. I'm just saying I don't think it's going to affect people's view of who and what Donald Trump represents to them
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Priebus, repeatedly wavering in his estimation of Trump's character, called the stories "planted" and suggested that critics are unfit to judge the presumptive GOP nominee.
"As Christians, judging each other, I think, is problematic," he said on ABC.
"It's when people live in glass houses and throw stones that people get in trouble ... It's not necessarily that people make mistakes or have regrets or seek forgiveness. It's whether or not the person launching the charge is authentic in their own life and can actually be pure enough to make such a charge."
Priebus argued that Hillary Clinton's treatment of women is just as newsworthy as Trump's.
"I don't have a problem with reporters looking into this, but I also think they should be looking at Hillary Clinton and her past and her treatment of women and her treatment of women in the workplace and the way she acted on this email scandal," Priebus said.
Representing Republicans sceptical of Trump, Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said on Fox News that the businessman's "New York values" won't play well in the American heartland.
"I think there are millions of soccer mums, football dads, baseball dads across America, and they're trying to raise their children in a tough culture, and here they have a presidential candidate who is demeaning to women. He's vulgar, he's crass and I don't know where they are going to go. He's certainly not conservative either," Huelskamp said.
Senator Jeff Sessions, who has endorsed Trump, said voters don't expect "purity" from him.
"What they're deeply concerned about is this: somebody strong enough to take on Washington," Sessions said on ABC.