President Donald Trump defended his longtime friend, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly Wednesday against the new revelations that the Fox News star and the parent company — 21st Century Fox — paid $13 million in settlement to five women who claimed of being sexually assaulted or verbally abused by the TV host in 2002.
"I think he's a person I know well — he is a good person," Trump said during an interview with The New York Times at the Oval Office.
"Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled," Trump told the Times reporters in a wide-ranging interview. "Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong," he added.
O'Reilly and the network settled sexual allegation cases, when five women accused the host of inappropriate behavior. However, he denied these allegations and claimed that he made the payments to spare his family from defamation. He also cited his high profile reputation for being targeted.
Rebecca Gomez Diamond, former Fox News and Fox Business host and one among the women who received a settlement from the O’Reilly, slammed Trump for defending the Fox News host.
Trump has always been a fan of Fox News and appeared regularly for interviews with prime-time hosts and communicating over phone with Rupert Murdoch, Fox News' executive chairman. On Wednesday, Trump hosted Fox News host Jeanine Pirro for dinner at the White House, with whom the president has been friends with for over 10 years now, a source told Politico. Earlier last week, Trump asked his Twitter followers to watch Pirro's show "Justice with Judge Jeanine," where she asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to step down from his post after the failure of the health care bill.
This sparked controversy on social media, however White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus clarified that the president's tweet and Pirro's call for Ryan's resignation as "coincidental."
"There is no preplanning here," Priebus said, and added that Trump promoted Pirro's show on Twitter "because he loves Judge Jeanine" and wanted to do her a favor.
Trump has also been close to O'Reilly being a regular guest on "The O’Reilly Factor." The president during his earlier days attended baseball games with the TV host. Trump as president-elected allowed O'Reilly to interview him exclusively, which aired during Fox New's Super Bowl pre-game show.
Earlier Trump similarly defended former Fox News Chief Roger Ailes last year, when he was facing numerous sexual harassment allegations. Although Ailes denied the accusations, he was forced to resign from the network in July 2016.
"I think they are unfounded just based on what I've read. Totally unfounded, based on what I read," Trump commented about the accusations against Ailes, according to CNN.