A lawyer representing Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who stands accused of sexually pursuing minors and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl years ago, on Wednesday argued that cultural norms surrounding the age of consent vary throughout the world.
Moore’s lawyer Trenton Garmon made the argument in response to questions about Moore’s remark last week that he did not recall “dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”
“Why would he need permission from any of these girls’ mothers if they weren’t underage?” Stephanie Ruhle asked Garmon on MSNBC.
“That’s a good question, and culturally I would say there’s differences. I looked up Ali’s background there,” Garmon replied, referring to Ruhle’s co-host Ali Velshi. “Wow. That’s awesome, that you’ve got such a diverse background. It was cool to read through that.”
“What does Ali’s background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?” Ruhle shot back.
“I’m not finished with the context of it,” Garmon said.
“Well, please answer,” Ruhle pressed. “What does Ali Velshi’s background have to do with dating children, 14-year-old girls?”
“Sure,” Garmon said. “In other countries there’s arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage, so—”
“Ali’s from Canada,” Ruhle interrupted. “Ali’s from Canada.”
“I understand that. And Ali’s also spent time in other countries. It’s not a bad thing,” Garmon said.
“So have I,” Ruhle said.
“I don’t know where you’re going with this, Trenton,” Velshi, who was born in Kenya and raised in Ontario, said.
Watch the exchange: