Before all-but endorsing Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore Tuesday afternoon, behind closed doors President Trump has been skeptical in recent weeks about the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against the former judge, according to Politico.
Trump has said he doubted the stories of the women who have come forward recently claiming Moore pursued relationships or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them when they were teens and Moore was in his 30s, according to two White House advisers and two people familiar with the matter who spoke to Politico.
The White House advisers said Trump compared the allegations to what he faced just weeks before the 2016 election when a number of women came forward alleging Trump had harassed them — claims he continues to deny, just like Moore.
Before leaving Washington on Tuesday to hole up in his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving with his family, Trump appeared to let some of those private sentiments slip.
“Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That’s all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it,” he told reporters Tuesday. “He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen.”
The White House has mostly steered clear of taking a direct stance on the issue publicly since the allegations surfaced, but Trump reportedly personally gave White House counselor Kellyanne Conway permission to appear on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday to slam Moore’s candidate Democrat Doug Jones, Politico’s sources said. During that interview she made veiled suggestions that Trump needed Moore’s vote to pass tax reform legislation.
Trump has also reportedly been asking advisers for polling updates in Alabama as well this past week, and has been curious about whether locals believe the allegations against Moore. Despite calls from congressional Republican leaders for Moore to drop out of the race, the President didn’t see the benefit in coming out against Moore, according to Politico.