Senior White House aide: Give Roy Moore more time to defend himself
November 12 at 12:07 PM
Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at an event Saturday in Birmingham. (Brynn Anderson/AP)
A senior aide to President Trump said Sunday that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore needs to be given time to defend himself against allegations that he pursued sexual or romantic relationships with teenage girls when he was in his 30s and that Trump would look more closely at the issue after returning from a trip to Asia.
âThereâs no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia,â Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said on NBCâs âMeet the Press.â âI mean thatâs real ity. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.â
Short noted that Moore this week âplans to come forward with more evidence to support his innocence.â
Short was among several senior Trump administration officials who hedged their comments about the Republican Senate hopeful during appearances on Sunday talk shows. A Washington Post report last week detailed the stories of four women who said Moore had pursued relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, including one, Leigh Corfman, who said Moore undressed himself and touched her over her underwear when she was 14 and he was 32.
Moore has vigorously denied the allegations, calling them âfake news.â
[Roy Moore: Alabama voters will âsee through this charadeâ of sexual misconduct claim]
In an interview on ABCâs âThis Weekâ on Sunday morning, White house counselor Kellyanne Conway emphasiz ed that if Moore did what he is accused of doing, he should step aside from his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions (R) after he became Trumpâs attorney general.
But Conway repeatedly declined to say whether she believed the accusations against Moore.
âLet me ask you again: Do you have any doubt about the veracity of the accusations?â ABC News host Martha Raddatz asked.
âMartha, I only know what I read,â Conway responded, âand I take very seriously allegations like this, particularly when they involved somebody who happens to be one of my daughterâs ages.â
Raddatz interrupted: âSo you believe these â¦â
âI know what I read,â Conway said. âI donât know the accusers, and I donât know Judge Moore. But I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press. He has denied the allegations.â
When asked by Raddatz what âstandard of proofâ Conway woul d accept for her to advise Trump to call for Moore to step aside, Conway again noted that Moore is not on trial.
âIt would be a very dangerous precedent for any of us, for any person in this country, to just be cast aside as guilty because of press reports,â Conway said.
Appearing on CNNâs âState of the Union,â Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the allegations against Moore require a closer look.
âIâm not an expert on this issue, but what I would say is people should investigate this issue and get the facts,â he said. âAnd if these allegations are true, then absolutely, this is incredibly inappropriate behavior.â
Asked by host Jake Tapper whether he believes the allegations, Mnuchin said, âIt appears that there is a significant issue here that needs to be addressed.â
After the allegations surfaced last week, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying that Trump âbelieves that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.â
She also said âa mere allegationâ should not âdestroy a personâs life.â
Asked about Moore, Trump more recently has told reporters traveling with him in Asia that âI have not seen very much about him, about it.â
âAnd, you know, I put out a statement yesterday that he'll do the right thing,â the president added.
Short said Trump would focus more on the Alabama race when he returns to Washington later this week.
âI think the presidentâs obviously on a very important trip, and when he returns, I think weâll have that conversation,â Short told host Chuck Todd. âBut I think that people here in this town have an inflated view of what our views are. And itâs important for the people of Alabama to be allowed the chance to discern the truth here and make the right decision.â
âRoy Moore is somebody who graduated from West Point, he serve d our country in Vietnam, heâs been elected multiple times statewide in Alabama,â Short said. âThe people in Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in D.C., and I think we have to be very cautious .â.â. of allegations that are 40 years old that arise a month before Election Day.âSource: Google News