GOP senator declines to directly address rape allegations against Trump

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' 2020 Republicans accuse Schumer of snubbing legislation MORE (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that she won’t comment on President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate 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."

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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.

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“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 GrahamGraham: Report on alleged surveillance abuse in 2016 to be released Dec. 9 McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack 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.”