When Roy Moore's Alabama defenders go on TV, things get really, really weird.

The more often Roy Moore’s defenders appear on cable news shows to support the Republican Senate nominee accused of molesting teenage girls, the worse things get for the GOP.

One day after an Alabama journalist compared pedophilia to stealing a lawn mower and suggested Moore shouldn’t be disqualified for office, Moore’s attorney, Trenton Garmon, appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday and waded into a truly bizarre realm.

Garmon defended Moore by saying, “Culturally, there’s differences,” and that because co-host Ali Velshi had traveled to “other countries” that have arranged marriages, that somehow made the Moore assaulting and preying on teenagers all right.

Velshi’s co-host, Stephanie Ruhle, pushed back hard against Garmon’s incoherent argument:

RUHLE: Why would he need permission from any of these girls’ mothers if they weren’t underage?

GARMON: Sure, that’s a good question, and I would say culturally, there’s differences. I looked up Ali’s background there. Wow, that’s awesome that you’ve got a — such a diverse background. It’s really cool to read through that. The point is this —

RUHLE: What does Ali’s background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?

GARMON: I’m not finished with the context of it.

RUHLE: Well, please answer. What does Ali Velshi’s background have to do with dating underage — children, 14-year-old girls?

GARMON: Sure. In other countries, there’s arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage.

RUHLE: Ali’s from Canada.

GARMON: I understand that. And Ali’s also spent time in other countries of which I’ve gone through. So it’s not a bad thing.

RUHLE: So have I.

VELSHI: I don’t know where you’re going with this, Trenton.

GARMON: Stephanie, but to answer your question, so he said no, comma. So he answered no. And then he went on to say his process before he’d date anybody, whether 25 or 35 or whether he doesn’t even know their age, he would ask the mother’s permission. So he answered no. There’s no inconsistency in that. And I stand by the answer. To me it’s the most appropriate proper answer.

It’s not entirely clear what Garmon was talking about, or the point he was trying to make on Moore’s behalf. Velshi was born in Kenya and raised in Canada, but Garmon failed to explain how that was relevant to his defense of his client or why the practices in other countries somehow made Moore’s behavior in Alabama appropriate.

Following the awkward interview, Ruhle was still fuming.

“I feel sad for the people of Alabama who are trying so hard to get out from under a completely unfair stereotype,” she said, “and then we’re taken right back into, well, ‘You people are from some different parts and we live a different way here.’” 

Garmon made news on Tuesday when he initiated legal action against a local Alabama newspaper, which reported on Moore’s known reputation for having cruised local malls looking for young girls. As Slate noted, “The letter is utterly incoherent, full of typos, and incomprehensibly written.”

That nicely capture’s Garmon’s TV appearance.


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