President Donald Trump finally addressed the allegations against Roy Moore — and he appeared to back the Alabama Senate candidate, saying that “we don’t need a liberal person in there” and that Moore “totally denies” the accusations of sexual abuse and pursuit of underage girls.
Trump broke with national Republicans, who have unendorsed Moore and called for him to step aside.
The president spoke to reporters before heading to Mar-a-Lago, where he’ll be spending Thanksgiving. “I can tell you one thing for sure. We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Trump said when asked if he was ready to talk about Moore (referring to Moore’s opponent Doug Jones). “I’ve looked at his record, it’s terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military.”
A reporter shouted a follow-up in response: “Is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?”
“He denies it,” Trump responded. “I mean, if you look at what is really going on and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it.”
“He says it didn’t happen,” Trump added, “and you have to listen to him also.”
Trump’s comments are likely to complicate an already knotty situation for Republicans. Moore — who has been accused of assaulting a 14-year-old girl and pursuing dates with other teenage girls when he was in his 30s — has refused to drop out of the December 12 Alabama Senate race for Jeff Sessions’s old seat.
After the Washington Post reported the first accusations November 9, the White House said in a statement that “if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.” Jones has been pulling ahead of Moore in recent polls.
But Trump himself remained conspicuously silent on the allegations against Moore, even as he attacked Sen. Al Franken on Twitter for his alleged misconduct and as Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republican senators called for the former judge to drop out and desperately sought ways — from a write-in campaign to expulsion — to block Moore from joining the US Senate.
Now that Trump — who has also been accused by multiple women of sexual assault — appears to have thrown his weight behind Moore, Republicans who wanted to oust the Alabaman will likely have an even harder time if they attempt to stage a last-ditch write-in campaign or try to pressure Moore to leave the race.