Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations and one of the highest ranking women in the United States administration, on Sunday said women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard”.

“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Haley said on CBS’ Face the Nation programme. “I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”

Haley’s comments break with the US administration’s stance that the allegations against the president are false and come after three lawmakers – Senator Al Franken from Minnesota, Representative John Conyers from Michigan and Congressman Trent Franks from Arizona – announced the same week that were stepping down from office after they were accused of sexual misconduct and harassment.

Haley said she was “incredibly proud of the women who have come forward”. “I’m proud of their strength. I’m proud of their courage,” she said.

Several women have accused Trump of unwanted touching, forcible kissing or groping them, The New York Times reported. Some of them who accused Trump during the presidential campaign said they wanted to press their case.

The US Congress is reviewing policies on how to handle sexual harassment cases, after a string of such complaints against prominent figures in the US media, Hollywood and politics.