President Donald Trump believes Roy Moore would step aside from the Alabama Senate race if allegations that he initiated sexual encounters with minors are true, his spokeswoman said.
“Like most Americans, the president believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case, one from many years ago — to destroy a person’s life,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Air Force One Friday while the president was traveling from China to Vietnam.
“However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside,” Sanders said.
The Washington Post published a story Thursday citing four women who said Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 14 and 18, between 1979 and 1981, when Moore worked as a district attorney. One woman said she was 14 years old when Moore removed her clothes and attempted to have her touch his genitals.
Moore eventually rose to become chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was twice removed from the bench for defying a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments statue from the courthouse, and for refusing to honor the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Trump is the latest GOP leader to offer an opinion on what Moore should do as the Republican nominee if the allegations are true. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and a number of Republican lawmakers issued similar statements Thursday.
Moore’s campaign has vehemently denied the allegation, calling the report “fake news.”
“The forces of evil will lie, cheat, steal — even inflict physical harm — if they believe it will silence and shut up Christian conservatives like you and me,” Moore said in a fundraising email Thursday after the Post report was published.
It is too late for Moore’s name to be taken off the ballot, but if he does exit the race, or if the Alabama GOP opts to disqualify him as its nominee, votes for him would not count. Another Republican who opts to run would have to wage a write-in campaign.
Moore faces former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Jones’ campaign issued a one-sentence statement in the wake of the allegations, saying, “Roy Moore needs to answer these serious charges.”