(CNSNews.com) - White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday denied that there was a disconnect in President Donald Trump expressing concern that men who are accused of sexual assault will be presumed guilty without due process and when he spoke out against the Central Park Five - a group of black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a jogger in 1989.
“So President Trump talked a lot yesterday about this issue of being concerned about men … being thought guilty before proven innocent and this idea of due process, but in the past, with the Central Park Five, he put out an ad basically calling for the death penalty before they had been found convicted,” National Public Radio White House Correspondent Ayesha Rascoe said.
“And even after they were exonerated, he still basically said that they may be guilty. And, even as president, he has presided over rallies where people say, ‘Lock her up,’ talking about Hillary Clinton. So I guess, is there a disconnect between when the president is interested in due process for some, but not for others?” Rascoe asked.
“Not at all,” Sanders said.
She said Trump was simply pointing out that there should be a fair playing field for women who accuse men of sexual assault and the men who are accused.
“The president actually encouraged the Senate to hear Dr. Ford's testimony in the same way he encouraged them to hear Judge Kavanaugh's. He is simply stating the fact that we are a country of law and order, we are a country that still believes that you're innocent until proven guilty, and we want to see that process go through in its entirety. And it should be on a fair playing field. That's simply the only point he's making,” Sanders said.
“He said the Central Park Five was guilty. And does he feel that now?” American Urban Radio Network (AURN) White House Correspondent April Ryan asked.
Sanders said she’d have to “look back at those specific comments.”
“This president has taken this moment to say that he's been affected personally by all of these allegations, and he's picking and choosing -- just as this question was. He said the Central Five -- Park Five was guilty, and then he has made Bill Clinton guilty. Has he decided to change his mind on the Central Park Five, as they have been exonerated?” Ryan asked.
“It's interesting that you bring up Bill Clinton. Nobody wants to hear those accusers' voices be heard, but you're certainly happy to hear all the others,” Sanders said.
“No, he had them -- the president had them at the debate,” Ryan said.
“I addressed this. I don't have anything else to add,” Sanders said.
In a statement to CNN’s Miguel Marquez in October 2016, Trump said the Central Park Five “admitted they were guilty,” that the police investigators said they were guilty, and there was “so much evidence against them.”
"They admitted they were guilty," Trump said in a statement in 2016. "The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same."
All five of the Central Park Five were exonerated due to DNA evidence and because someone else confessed to the crime in 2002. As a result, New York paid them $41 million in 2014.