Katrina Pierson's “armrest” defense: Donald Trump couldn't have groped woman because that's not how first-class seats work

Trump's spokeswoman seems to have a dubious grasp of 1980s airline schedules and aviation technology

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published October 13, 2016 1:41PM (EDT)

Katrina Pierson   (CNN)
Katrina Pierson (CNN)

Donald Trump’s paid apologists have been working overtime since The Washington Post published leaked audio last Friday of the Republican presidential nominee boasting about his habit of groping women. They still can’t catch a break.

On Wednesday night, several media outlets published fresh allegations from women who say Trump forced himself on them. On CNN on Wednesday night, top Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson spun the most ridiculous defense of her boss in the face of the new blockbuster allegations.

Pierson was asked by CNN host Don Lemon about the the case of Jessica Leeds, who has alleged that Trump put his hand up her skirt and groped her “like an octopus” while she was in first class on a 1980s commercial flight with him. In her recollection, Leeds said Trump pulled up the armrest that separated them before he grabbed her breasts.

Pierson told Lemon that the incident couldn’t have happened as described because the armrests on planes back then didn’t move. The former Tea Party activist then summoned some aviation terminology and rattled off a list of airplane models to assert that Leeds’ accusation is patently false”:

We’re talking about the early 1980s, Don. Seriously? Back then you had planes — what, a DC-9, a DC-10, an MD-80, a 707 and maybe an L-1011. But she said specifically that this was [a flight] to New York. This is important, so we can X out the DC-10 and the L-1011. Guess what? First-class seats have fixed armrests, so what I can tell you about her story, if she was groped on a plane, it wasn’t by Donald Trump and it certainly wasn’t in first class.

Co-panelist Peter Beinart immediately launched into a fit of laughter at Pierson’s comical defense of the GOP nominee — perhaps because he's aware that all those planes were commonly used on coast-to-coast flights in the 1980s.

But Pierson’s absurd “armrest” defense against the latest accusations of sexual assault by Trump was not the only thing that caused her co-panelists to shake their heads. Pierson also went after Trump accuser Jill Harth, who in 1997 filed a $125 million lawsuit alleging that Trump had sexually harassed her in 1993. (The Guardian reported on Harth's claims in May and on Friday The New York Times did as well.)

“We know that one of those women in the last article was trying to get her book sold,” Pierson said of Harth. “She wanted to raise her profile.”

“Just to answer the question on why they would come out, Don, because — 15 minutes of fame,” she told Lemon. 

“Katrina, do you think that that’s fair? Because people will say the same thing about you,” Lemon responded, “That you’re supporting Donald Trump for 15 minutes of fame.”

Watch the segment below: 

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Armrest Defense Donald Trump Election 2016 Elections 2016 Katrina Pierson Trump Surrogates Video