WASHINGTON — President Trump defended Roy S. Moore, the Alabama Republican Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct with minors, saying on Tuesday that Mr. Moore “totally denies” the allegations against him.
Mr. Trump said that Alabama voters should not support Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate running against Mr. Moore in a special election next month.
“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”
The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.
Mr. Trump declined to say whether he would campaign for Mr. Moore in the final days before the election, adding that he would let reporters know next week about his plans. Asked by a reporter whether electing an accused child molester is better than electing a Democrat, Mr. Trump responded by saying that Mr. Moore denies the charges against him.
“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,” Mr. Trump said. “He says it didn’t happen. You have to listen to him also.”
Mr. Trump had declined to weigh in on the charges against Mr. Moore for more than a week, leaving it to his press secretary to say only that the president believed it was up to Alabama voters to decide.
Mr. Trump had issued an earlier statement expressing confidence that Mr. Moore would step aside if the charges against him were true.
In brief comments on Air Force One during his recent trip to Asia, Mr. Trump said he had not had time to examine the allegations against Mr. Moore. He added, “I’ll have further comment as we go down the road. I have to get back into the country to see what’s happening.”
Speaking on Tuesday before he left for his Thanksgiving break in Palm Beach, Florida, Mr. Trump also responded to a question about what a reporter called “this pivotal moment” regarding sexual assault.
“Women are very special,” the president said. “I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very very good for women, and I’m very happy these things are coming out.”
But he declined to say whether Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, who has been accused by two women of inappropriate sexual conduct, should resign from the Senate.
“I don’t want to speak for Al Franken,” he said.
Mr. Trump’s defense of Mr. Moore and his rejection of his Democratic opponent in the race were tantamount to an endorsement of Mr. Moore, who has been abandoned by nearly all of the Republican establishment in Washington.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has called on Mr. Moore to step aside as a candidate, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has severed ties with Mr. Moore, saying it would no longer raise money for his campaign.
Mr. Trump took a different stance on Tuesday. After campaigning unsuccessfully against Mr. Moore during the Republican primary earlier this year, the president had appeared uneasy about getting involved in the race again. His decision to defend Mr. Moore appeared likely to please his conservative base, which is frustrated with establishment Republicans like Mr. McConnell.
Members of Mr. Trump’s administration have argued that keeping the Senate seat in Republican hands was important for advancing the president’s agenda, including tax cuts as part of an overhaul of the tax code.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said on Fox News on Monday that Mr. Jones could not be counted on to support those plans.
“Doug Jones in Alabama — folks, don’t be fooled,” she said. “He will be a vote against tax cuts.”
Asked whether that meant that the White House was urging a vote for Mr. Moore, Ms. Conway said, “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”
Published at Tue, 21 Nov 2017 21:26:32 +0000