White House’s New Defense Of Trump’s Moore Silence: He Supported Strange!

The White House’s director of legislative affairs on Friday offered an unusual defense of President Donald Trump’s silence regarding accusations against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore: The President supported Moore’s opponent in the Republican primaries.

The White House said in a written statement last week that Moore should step aside if the allegations of sexual misconduct against him are true. Since then, Trump has repeatedly ignored reporters’ questions about whether he believes Moore’s numerous accusers, and therefore, whether he believes Moore should exit the race.

On Friday, CNN’s Dana Bash asked Marc Short, the White House legislative director, why Trump has remained silent on Moore while attacking Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) for alleged sexual misconduct.

“Is the President not being a hypocrite in tweeting about Al Franken and saying nothing about allegations about the Republican, Roy Moore?” she asked.

Short said “there’s a little short-term memory here.”

“The President went down and campaigned against Roy Moore,” he said. “He campaigned for Luther Strange. The President was very active in this campaign. He chose a different candidate.”

Moore won the Republican Senate primary on Sept. 26. The first accusations of misconduct against him — namely, allegedly making sexual advances on a 14-year-old when he was 32 — were reported by the Washington Post on Nov. 9.

Trump also threw his support behind Moore the moment he defeated Strange.

Short continued: “The President, even when he was traveling overseas, put out a statement that says, ‘If these allegations are true, he should step aside.’ So the President’s been very clear on this. At some point, Dana, we have to trust the people of Alabama to make the right decision. Everybody here in D.C. wants to decide for them what to do. The President weighed in. It’s now up to them to make a decision.”

Bash countered: Why won’t Trump simply call for Moore to step aside? “Does the White House — do you — believe the women?” she asked.

“I think that what we’ve said is that Roy Moore’s, so far, explanations have not been satisfactory,” Short said, before returning to his previous point: “But at the same time, Dana, what we expect is what we have said: We campaigned against him. The President was clear in that, Dana. I think that at this point we believe that it’s up to the people of Alabama to make a decision.”

“So he’s not speaking out in part because he didn’t want him in the first place?” Bash asked.

“The President chose a different candidate, he chose Luther Strange,” Short said. “That’s who he supported.”

“Do you think he has a moral obligation, as the President of the United States—” Bash began.

“Dana, I don’t know what people want him to do more than going down and campaigning for his opponent,” Short interrupted. “That’s what he did.”

Later, Short repeated the White House’s line that the large list of women accusing Trump himself of sexual assault and harassment in the past are lying.

“The President has been clear that those allegations were not truthful,” he said.

Watch Short’s comments below:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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