Ben Carson's longtime adviser and spokesman defended Donald Trump Friday after a leaked video from 2005 showed the Republican nominee lewdly bragging about trying to seduce a married woman.
"Dr. Carson believes that people can change and be better," Carson aide Armstrong Williams told BuzzFeed News in an interview. "You know, these things happen. I'm sure somebody could find a video of Bill Clinton talking like this — are we gonna say Bill Clinton was the same person as president that he is today? Obviously not."
Armstrong continued, "People commit adultery. It happens. Ministers. Heads of state. Everyday people. People are human, they do human things. It's nothing unusual that somebody committed adultery on their spouse. Women do it. Men do it. Should we be shocked by it? No."
Republicans frequently argued in the '90s that Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky was disqualifying in part because presidents should be held to a higher moral standard.
Asked whether Carson agreed with that argument, Armstrong said, "That's true, but ultimately it's between Bill Clinton and his wife. It's a personal matter. That was the argument. The only thing he shouldn't have done is lie about it. It's not so much what people do, it's how people handle it when it's revealed."
The Trump campaign, where Carson serves as a key adviser and surrogate, has repeatedly sought to make a political issue out of the Clintons' marriage this year.
Asked if Carson was satisfied with Trump's statement on the video — in which he dismissed it as "locker room banter" and apologized "if anyone was offended" — Armstrong said, "Well, he can't deny it."
He continued, "You can fall short, you can commit adultery, but you can still be a good person. Dr. Carson has the capacity to forgive, just as he forgave Mr. Trump of the horrible things he said about him during the primaries. That's part of the our faith."
Armstrong added that Trump was "a tough guy during the heyday of his life — that's why his father sent him to military school."
He concluded the interview by saying, "Hey, the flesh can be weak, my man."
McKay Coppins is a senior writer for the BuzzFeed News politics team, and the author of The Wilderness, about the battle over the future of the Republican Party.
Contact McKay Coppins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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