‘You have to listen to him’: Trump defends Moore against sexual misconduct accusations
President Donald Trump has discounted allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and says voters shouldn’t support Moore’s “liberal” rival.
Mr Trump addressed the swirling controversy surrounding Mr Moore for the first time since top Republican leaders called on the candidate to step aside more than a week ago.
“We don’t need a liberal person in there,” Mr Trump said of Mr Moore’s rival, Democrat Doug Jones.
“We don’t need somebody who’s soft on crime like Jones.”
Mr Trump said he would announce next week whether he would campaign on Mr Moore’s behalf.
The US president spoke to reporters on Tuesday at the White House before leaving for a Thanksgiving break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Six women have accused the Republican Mr Moore of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s.
Two have accused him of assault or molestation. Mr Moore has denied the allegations.
Mr Trump dismissed questions from reporters about him backing a man accused of sexual assault over a man who is a Democrat. He pointed to Mr Moore’s assertion that the candidate did nothing wrong.
“Roy Moore denies it, that’s all I can say. He denies it,” Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump added: “You have to listen to him also.”
He also noted that the allegations came from behaviour alleged to have happened decades ago.
“Forty years is a long time,” Mr Trump said, questioning why it took so long for Moore’s accusers to come forward.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both Republicans, have both called on Mr Moore to leave the race in light of the accusations.
The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for Mr Moore’s campaign.
The special election for the Alabama Senate seat is December 12.