WASHINGTON - President Trump basically endorsed embattled candidate Roy Moore on Tuesday, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the Alabama Republican involving teenage girls, saying he doesn't want another Democrat in the Senate and stressing Moore's denials of improper behavior with underage girls.
"We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat," Trump said on Tuesday.
Trump spoke while en route to the presidential helicopter that will take him to Air Force One to start a Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.
Trump himself ignored questions about whether he himself believes Moore's denials. "Roy Moore denies it," he said. "That's all I can say."
Trump said he will announce next week whether he intends to go to Alabama to campaign for Moore.
After the sexual harassment charges against Moore arose earlier this month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement saying Trump expected that, if the allegations are true, "Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."
As recently as last week, Sanders said Trump believed that the people of Alabama should decide whether to elect Moore, despite mounting allegations of sexual assault and harassment of girls as young as 14 years old.
"Look, the president believes these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be," Sanders said Thursday.
Trump declined to discuss other lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.
"I don't want to speak for Al Franken," Trump said of the Minnesota Democratic senator.
Franken has apologized to a TV host and sportscaster who accused him of kissing and groping her without her consent, before his time in Congress.
Yet Trump last week referred to the former Saturday Night Live writer as "Frankenstein" and tweeted that the evidence against Franken is "really bad." He blasted him for hypocrisy in condemning other acts of sexual harassment. "The Al Frankenstien (sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words," Trump tweeted last week. "Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?"
Trump's tweets opened the door for the president's critics to revive the many sexual misconduct allegations against him. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of groping and kissing then against their will; Trump has denied every allegation.
The White House defended Trump's attack on Franken's sexual misconduct on Friday by saying the allegations against Franken were very different from accusations against Trump.
"Specifically, Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last Friday. "That's a very clear distinction."
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