GOP senator declines to directly address rape allegations against Trump

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities MORE (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that she won’t comment on President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE’s remark this week that writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in the mid-1990s, is “not my type.”

“I will not address what the president has said, but what I will address is that anybody that comes forward with accusations should be heard,” said Ernst, who has said she was raped in college, according to New York Times reporter Julie Davis.

"It’s important any types of allegations like this are taken seriously, but they do have to be properly vetted," Ernst added, according to The Washington Post. "We have to find out — are these accusations, is there a grave truth, is there not? ... I don’t know that at this point."

Ernst's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Ernst, an outspoken supporter of the president, has spoken publicly of her experience with sexual assault, alleging in January that she was attacked by her ex-husband while they were married and by her former boyfriend in college.

The senator said that boyfriend at Iowa State University, whom she did not name, was “physically and sexually abusive” and that he raped her one night.

Ernst’s latest remarks came after Trump, in an interview with The Hill on Monday, vehemently denied Carroll’s allegation that he raped her in 1995 or 1996 at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City.

“Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened. OK?” Trump said in the interview in the Oval Office.

Other lawmakers have weighed in on Trump’s comments this week about the allegations, with Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Why Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets MORE (R-S.C.), a top Trump ally, telling reporters that the president’s denial is “all I needed to hear.”

“The president has denied it,” Graham said, according to multiple reports. “I have no reason to … you know, no. He’s denied it, and that’s all I needed to hear.”