Melania Trump has said she supports victims of sexual assault but they need to provide "really hard evidence" when going public with their accusations.
The first lady discussed the #MeToo movement after Brett Kavanaugh's contentious Supreme Court confirmation battle, in which the 114th justice was accused of sexual assault and sexual misconduct by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
The US Senate voted to confirm Donald Trump's second nominee to the nation’s highest court after numerous Republicans said a week-long FBI probe failed to yield conclusive evidence against him. Mr Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations against him.
“I support the women,” she told ABC during an exclusive interview as the first lady travelled around Africa this week. “They need to be heard. We need to support them. And also men, not just women.”
She added, “We need to have really hard evidence that if you’re accused of something, show the evidence.”
The first lady attempted to defend herself against critics who allege her position doesn't show genuine support for assault survivors, who often fail to report the crimes out of fear they won’t be believed.
"I do stand with women," Ms Trump said. "But we need to show the evidence."
She continued, "You cannot just say to somebody you know ‘I was sexually assaulted’ or ‘You did that to me,’ because sometimes the media goes too far. And the way they portray some stories, it’s not correct. It’s not right."
The nation was left polarised after Dr Ford’s historic testimony in which she accused Mr Kavanaugh of an assault carried out nearly 36 years ago while the two were in high school. President Trump described her statements as “compelling” and “very credible” shortly after her testimony.
Still, Republicans managed to push the nomination through with a narrow 50-48 vote after the GOP accused Democrats of a “smear campaign” that lacked substance or credible accusations against Mr Kavanaugh.
The first lady appeared to echo a stance made by key Republican senators like Susan Collins, who ultimately supported Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination and later told CNN she did not believe the judge was Dr Ford’s assaulter — though she believed an assault had taken place.
Meanwhile, the president has moved to decry the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh, telling reporters at the White House, “It is a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of”.
The first lady’s full interview with ABC will air on Friday as a special on Ms Trump titled “Being Melania: The First Lady”.
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