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Wednesday 21 August 2019

Trump discounts accusations against Senate candidate Moore

Senate candidate Roy Moore. (AP)
Senate candidate Roy Moore. (AP)

President Donald Trump has glossed over allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and said voters should not support Moore's "liberal" rival.

The president addressed the swirling controversy surrounding Mr Moore for the first time since top Republican leaders called on him to step aside more than a week ago.

"We don't need a liberal person in there," President Trump said of Mr Moore's rival, Democrat Doug Jones.

"We don't need somebody who's soft on crime like Jones."

President Trump said he will announce next week whether he will campaign on Mr Moore's behalf.

He spoke to reporters at the White House before leaving for a Thanksgiving break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Six women have accused 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; he vehemently denies it.

President Trump, who has faced more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct himself, 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 assertions that he did nothing wrong.

"Roy Moore denies it, that's all I can say," President Trump said. "He denies it."

He also noted that the allegations came from behaviour alleged to have happened decades ago.

"40 years is a long time," President Trump said, questioning why it took so long for Mr Moore's accusers to come forward.

Previously, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said only that President Trump "thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both Republicans, have 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 ahead of the December 12 special election to fill the seat once held by Republican Jeff Sessions, now the US attorney general.

The allegations against Mr Moore come amid a national reckoning over misdeeds by powerful men in media, business and politics.

President Trump said he is "very happy" that women are speaking out about their experiences.

"I think it's a very special time because 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," the president said.

More than a dozen women came forward at the end of the 2016 presidential election to say that Mr Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years. He denied it.

He was also caught on tape in 2005 boasting that he could grab women's private parts.

"When you're a star, they let you do it," Mr Trump said on the Access Hollywood tape.


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