Nov. 10 (UPI) — The White House said Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore should remove himself from the race if the sexual misconduct allegations against him are true.
Moore is the Republican candidate to fill the seat in the Senate vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general. A story in the Washington Post this week contains testimony that Moore, 70, engaged in sexual contact with a girl, 14, when he was 32 and an attorney in a small Alabama town. Three other women said they had similar experiences with Moore when they were teenagers. The newspaper interviewed more than 20 people who knew Moore between 1977 and 1982 before publishing its findings.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, traveling in Asia with President Donald Trump, said Trump does not believe “a mere allegation” should “destroy a person’s life.” She added, “however, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge twice removed from office, has vehemently denied the charges. His campaign said in a statement that “This garbage is the very definition of fake news and intentional defamation.” In a post on Twitter Thursday, Moore said, “I will NEVER GIVE UP the fight!”
Several Republican legislators, including Rep. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, concurred with Trump’s opinion that Moore should step aside if the allegations are proven true.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called the report “deeply disturbing” but added, “I will hold judgement until we know the facts. The people of Alabama deserve to know the truth and will make their own decisions.”
Ivey said she would vote for Moore, who is contesting the senate seat against Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election, but has a policy of not offering endorsements.
Tommy Battle, the mayor of Huntsville who is seeking the GOP nomination for the 2018 governor’s race, said, “If the allegations are true, then he does not need to be the Republican candidate for Senate.”
Others in Alabama came to Moore’s defense.
“There is nothing to see here,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told the Washington Examiner. “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.”
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler added. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
Trump endorsed candidate Luther Strange over Moore in the GOP senate primary, but later congratulated Moore on his victory and endorsed him in the contest against Jones. Moore’s run was promoted by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose support of Moore put him at odds with Trump. On Thursday he noted the Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, was the same media outlet which initially published the “Access Hollywood” story during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which Trump was recorded bragging about groping women.
“The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped that dime on Donald Trump, is the same Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post that dropped the dime this afternoon on Judge Roy Moore,” Bannon said. “Now is that a coincidence? That’s what I mean when I say opposition party, right?,” ABC News reported.