Trump defends Roy Moore against charges

Four women have accused Mr Roy Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers.
Four women have accused Mr Roy Moore of pursuing them when they were teenagers.

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has defended embattled United States Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying the Alabama Republican had denied allegations of sexual misconduct.

He also emphasised that he did not want Mr Moore's Democratic opponent to win.

Mr Trump previously said that Mr Moore should step aside if the allegations were true.

Speaking to reporters at the White House on Tuesday before leaving Washington for Florida, Mr Trump left open the possibility of campaigning for Mr Moore, saying he would make an announcement on it next week.

The President also ripped into Mr Moore's opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, describing the former prosecutor as liberal and soft on crime.

The comments represented a shift in strategy for the White House, which previously tried to keep its distance from the controversy sparked by a Washington Post report detailing accusations by four women that Mr Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. More women have since spoken out with allegations of their own.

"He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also," Mr Trump said.

His position was a break from that of other national Republicans. US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent lawmakers have pressed Mr Moore to quit the race. It also contrasted with comments from his daughter, Ms Ivanka Trump, who said there was a "special place in hell for people who prey on children".

She said she had no reason to doubt the women's accounts.

Mr Moore, 70, has denied any wrongdoing. The married Christian conservative has said he is the victim of a witch-hunt.

In September, Mr Trump supported Mr Moore's opponent, Senator Luther Strange, in the Republican primary race for the open US Senate seat vacated by Attorney-General Jeff Sessions. But he backed Mr Moore after the former Alabama chief justice won the nomination.

Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. They are eager to hold on to that advantage to pass Mr Trump's legislative agenda on taxes, healthcare and other priorities.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'Trump defends Moore against charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe