President Trump on Tuesday staunchly defended US Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior by several women, some who were teenagers at the time.
"He denies it. Look, he denies it," Trump told reporters after his taking part in the White House tradition of pardoning a turkey. "If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn't happen. And look, you have to look at him also."
The president had previously deflected inquiries about Moore, letting White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tell reporters that it was up to the "voters to decide" and that if the "troubling" allegations were indeed true, the Republican should drop out of the race.
Despite mounting reports that Moore targeted, romantically advanced upon, and sexually assaulted women when they were teenagers, the Republican has refused to drop out of the heated race and denied the allegations. Trump's recent support breaks with leaders of his own party, such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, who say they believe the women and have called upon Moore to drop out.
But on Tuesday, Trump said he didn't support the idea of Moore's competition, Democrat Doug Jones, winning.
"We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat," Trump said. He then attacked Jones, noting that Alabama voters would be better off with Moore representing them.
"I've looked at his record. It's terrible on crime. It's terrible on the border. It's terrible on the military. I can tell you for a fact we do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment," Trump said about Jones.
Moore's campaign then trumpeted the president's attack on Jones, highlighting that Trump called him a "liberal Democrat."
When pressed about the nine women who say Moore harassed them, Trump said he does not know if he believes them, since the allegations are just now coming out after 40 years.
"He is in total denial. I do have to say, 40 years is a long time. He has run eight races and this has never come up. So 40 years is a long time," Trump said. "The women are Trump voters. Most of them are Trump voters. All you can do is you have to do what you have to do. He totally denies it."
However, Trump insisted he supported women in general, calling them "very special" and saying that he was pleased the media has been focusing so heavily on sexual harassment allegations against powerful men in multiple industries, such as Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., former CBS News host Charlie Rose, and Democratic leaders John Conyers and Al Franken.
"I think that's good for our society. And I think it's very, very good for women. And I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out," Trump said, adding that he believes Congress should release the names of lawmakers who have settled harassment claims.
Despite his supportive comments on Moore, Trump said he has not decided whether he will campaign for the candidate before the special election on Dec. 12.
"I'll be letting you know next week," he told reporters.
Watch the president's remarks here:
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at email@example.com.
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