Herschel Walker continues to deny abortion claim but admits troubled past: 'I've already been forgiven'

The Georgia GOP Senate candidate took reporters' questions on Thursday.

October 6, 2022, 4:57 PM

Herschel Walker, Georgia's Republican Senate nominee, on Thursday continued to offer shifting defenses about controversies in his personal life -- including the newest development: a report from The Daily Beast that a woman claiming he reimbursed her for an abortion in 2009 is also the mother of one of his four children.

Speaking with reporters at an event on Thursday afternoon in Wadley, Georgia, Walker seemingly attempted to separate past allegations of violence related to his first marriage -- previously levied by ex-wife Cindy Grossman, and the son they share, Christian -- from the abortion-related claims this week by an anonymous woman in a series of Daily Beast articles, which he has repeatedly denied.

"When my ex-wife and my past has nothing to do with what this woman said," Walker said, adding, "If anything happened, nothing to be ashamed of because my ex-wife and I are the best of friends with her husband and my wife."

His comments at Thursday's afternoon gaggle at times seemed to contradict an interview he gave hours earlier when he told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that if the woman's account in The Daily Beast was accurate, it would be "nothing to be ashamed of."

Power Trip
Hulu

Power Trip

"Power Trip" follows 7 young reporters as they chase down candidates in the lead up to the midterms with George Stephanopoulos guiding them along the way.

"Is there anything you need to be forgiven for vis-à-vis a woman whose name we do not know? Do you know who this woman is? And do you need to be forgiven?" Hewitt asked, referring to the woman in The Daily Beast reports, who described herself as an ex-girlfriend. (ABC News has not independently confirmed The Daily Beast reporting.)

"Had that happened, I would have said it, because it's nothing to be ashamed of there," Walker told Hewitt. "You know, people have done that, but I know nothing about it. And if I knew about it, I would be honest and talk about it, but I know nothing about that."

But later, answering questions from reporters on Thursday afternoon, Walker insisted that "nothing to be ashamed of" was referring to his ex-wife and their son.

"I was talking about something totally different," he said. "I said this here, the abortion thing, is false. It's a lie," he continued. "And that's what I said. I said anything that happened with my ex-wife or what Christian was talking about -- I don't know," he said.

PHOTO: Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker speaks at a campaign event on Sept. 9, 2022, in Gwinnett, Ga.
Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker speaks at a campaign event on Sept. 9, 2022, in Gwinnett, Ga.
Megan Varner/Getty Images, FILE

Grossman, his first wife, has remained publicly silent during Walker's Senate campaign. But in a 2008 interview with ABC News' "Nightline," as Walker was promoting a memoir, she offered a troubling glimpse into the final years of their relationship, claiming that her ex-husband once threatened her with a weapon.

Walker claimed then not to remember that incident, which he suggested was a byproduct of his diagnosis with dissociative identity disorder, or D.I.D., a complex mental health condition characterized by some severe and potentially debilitating symptoms.

He has since contended he received therapy and is "healed" of his D.I.D..

Court records related to Grossman's divorce proceedings contain additional allegations that Walker made threats of violence toward her and her then-boyfriend. Walker denied those allegations when he was interviewed by police in 2005 and he wasn't charged.

Herschel Walker says: 'I've already been forgiven'

In his Thursday morning interview with Hewitt, Walker said again that he had not paid for an abortion but then offered confusing follow-up remarks.

"I know nothing about any woman having an abortion. And they can keep coming at me like that, and they're doing it because they want to distract people," Walker told Hewitt at one point. "I know that, because you know, I've already been forgiven. And if I've been forgiven, why in the world would I not be forgiven of something like that?"

During the later press gaggle, Walker said that he has not reached out to any of the mothers of his children. "Why do I need to?" he asked.

PHOTO: Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during a ''Unite Georgia Bus Tour,'' at The Mill on Etowah, on Sept. 27, 2022, in Canton, Ga.
Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during a ''Unite Georgia Bus Tour,'' at The Mill on Etowah, on Sept. 27, 2022, in Canton, Ga.
Jason Getz/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via ZUMA Press Wire

The Daily Beast this summer reported that he had four children, though he had until then only publicly discussed son Christian.

Walker said in a statement in response that it was "outrageous" to think he was hiding his kids.

The Daily Beast on Monday then reported an unidentified woman's claims that Walker had paid for her abortion in 2009, providing a receipt from an abortion clinic, a bank deposit receipt with an image of a $700 check that she said was signed by Walker sent within a week of the abortion and also a "get well" card that she said was signed by Walker.

After Walker subsequently called the story a "flat-out lie" and promised to sue The Daily Beast -- which he has not yet done -- the woman went back to the outlet to say she was the mother of one of Walker's children.

In a brief statement on Wednesday night, Walker said: "There is no truth to this or any other Daily Beast report."

In the wake of Walker denying the woman's abortion claim, son Christian, a prominent conservative social media personality, publicly denounced him in a series of social media posts this week: "You've lived a life of DESTROYING other peoples [sic] lives," Christian Walker wrote in one tweet.

Multiple leading Republicans, including former President Donald Trump and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, said this week they support Herschel Walker and called the woman's claims "character assassination." McDaniel said in a statement that "Herschel Walker will deliver a safer and more prosperous Georgia, and the RNC will continue to invest in the Senate race."

Others, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell -- who had endorsed Herschel Walker -- have not publicly addressed the controversy.

The candidate suggested on Thursday that he had not been in touch with his son in several months -- at least since the Daily Beast reported in June that he had fathered other children.

Herschel Walker told Hewitt in Thursday morning's interview that his son was "extremely hurt" by that report in June.

"The left seem to want to bring up my past, and they don't realize like bringing up my past is like trying to rob my old house. I don't live there anymore. You know, I've moved on, and my life has moved on, and now I'm out doing something else, and I think they're not," he said.

Herschel Walker told Hewitt that he and his son had never discussed the additional children together.

At Thursday's press gaggle, Herschel Walker subsequently told ABC News: "I love my son so much. Man, I love him to death. And you know what, I've always loved him, no matter what my son says."

In a video earlier this week, Christian Walker said: "Everything's been a lie. Don't lie about your life at the expense of me, my mom and all of the people that you've affected throughout your life. You don't get to pretend you're some moral family guy."

PHOTO: Christian Walker, son of U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker, speaks in a post from his Twitter feed, Oct. 4, 2022.
Christian Walker, son of U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Georgia, Herschel Walker, speaks in a post from his Twitter feed, Oct. 4, 2022.
ChristianWalk1r/Twitter

Some state Republicans are also voicing concern. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on CNN Wednesday night that "even the most staunch Republicans, I think, are rattled at the continued flow of information" about Herschel Walker.

"If we're being intellectually honest, Herschel Walker won the primary because he scored a bunch of touchdowns back in the '80s and he was Donald Trump's friend. And now you move forward several months on the calendar and that's no longer a recipe to win," Duncan said.

"I think every Republican knew that there was baggage out there," he said. "But the weight of that baggage is starting to feel a little closer to unbearable at this point."

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Herschel Walker brushed off that criticism.

"Don't listen to people tell me I couldn't play football. So do you want me to listen to someone like that?" he said. "I'm here to win the seat for the Georgia people because the Georgia people need a winner. They don't need the one that we see going on right now."

ABC News' Lucien Bruggeman and Allison Pecorin contributed to this report.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events