After casting doubt on the stories of several women who have accused Donald Trump of unwanted groping and kissing, Ben Carson told the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday that the veracity of the accounts was irrelevant.
The former 2016 presidential candidate and Trump surrogate asked for a female panelist’s mic to be cut during the contentious interview, in which he argued that the media was focusing on these allegations rather than the “ball,” which was “what’s happening to America.”
Panelist Katty Kay asked Carson to clarify how he could simultaneously argue that Trump accuser Jessica Leeds could not have been groped on an airplane because of the “gigantic armrests” while also saying their stories aren’t relevant to the election.
“Are you saying these women are lying?” she asked.
“That’s your characterization because you need to characterize it that way to try to make me the bad guy,” Carson replied.
The MSNBC panelists broke out in a chorus of “no”s, pointing out that Kay was asking him to characterize his comments for himself.
“Stop,” Carson said, referring to Kay. “Hey, can you turn her microphone off, please?”
Joe Scarborough intervened to ask Carson to offer a “straight talk” response to a “simple question.”
“It doesn’t matter whether they’re lying or not,” the Trump surrogate responded.
“Of course it matters,” Scarborough said.
“Listen, it doesn’t matter whether they’re lying or not,” Carson repeated. “What matters is that the train is going off the cliff. We’re taking our eye off of that and getting involved in other issues.”
Carson used the train metaphor in other interviews this week, telling CNN’s Brianna Keilar that “the problem” with her questions about a leaked video in which Trump described groping women without consent was that she hadn’t heard more “locker room talk” like that. If she had, Carson implied, Keilar would be more focused on America’s impending train wreck.
On MSNBC, he accused the hosts of suddenly wanting to start a conversation about “our Judeo-Christian values,” saying this discussion should be postponed until after Election Day.
Conservative MSNBC commentator Elise Jordan asked how moral values were irrelevant to Americans deciding who to elect president, noting that Trump had referred to Carson as a pedophile during the primary campaign.
“Again, not the important issue,” Carson said. “It’s like hitting against a brick wall. Getting people and particularly people in the news media to understand how much trouble we’re in.”
The messy interview wrapped with Scarborough telling Carson to stop referring to the media as “you people” and both men telling each other to “work on” their colleagues.
Watch the clip below: