President Donald Trump said during his tour of Asian capitals that the Republican candidate in Alabama for the United States Senate "will do the right thing and step aside" should allegations about improper sexual peccadilloes prove to be true. This came after the publication of allegations that former Alabama Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was in his early 30s. Now a grandfather, Moore is in his 70s.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders addressed the issue early Friday onboard Air Force One. She said that President Trump “believes if allegations are true he will do the right thing and step aside.”
A statement from the White House clarified Trump's position:
"Like most Americans the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life. However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."
The Washington Post published the allegations on Thursday that Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 and while serving as an assistant district attorney in Alabama. Now a grown woman, Moore's accuser spoke on record and said that Moore once took her to his home, kissed her and took off her clothes and his own, running his hand over her body and his. In Alabama, the legal age of consent is 16.
Former White House counsel Stephen Bannon referred to the “The Bezos-Amazon-Washington Post" as a reminder of who had “dropped the dime on Donald Trump” during the presidential campaign. Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon, as well as the Washington Post. In 2016, the Washington Post published the old Access Hollywood tape that recorded Trump (who was then the host of "Celebrity Apprentice") on a hot mic boasting about his success with women by grabbing them “by the p*ssy.”
In other bad news for Moore, the Republican Party’s senate campaign arm severed financial ties with him. On Friday, a joint fundraising committee benefitting Moore and GOP organizations filed documents with Federal Election Commission which removes the National Republican Senatorial Committee as one of its beneficiaries. While the fundraising activities of the joint fundraising committee will continue to benefit Moore's campaign, the Alabama GOP, and the Republican Naitonal Committee, its relationship with the National Republican Senatorial Committee was thus terminated.
Beside vocal calls by Senate Republicans such as Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona on Moore to step out of the race, the severing of ties with the NRSC is thus far the most concrete step that the GOP has taken away from Moore. Most Republican legislators who spoke on the matter have said that Moore should step down only if the accusations prove to be true.
The special election pitting Moore against his Democrat rival takes place on December 12. Moore's supporters question why the accusations have come to light just a little more than a month before the election.
Moore was supported in the Republican primary by Bannon. Trump, on the other hand, had supported the incumbent senator who had been appointed by the state governor to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who left to serve as U.S. Attorney General.