Though President Donald Trump spent last week overseas on a 12-day trip to Asia, questions about Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, accused of sexually pursuing teenage girls when he was in his 30s, followed the President abroad.
As Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up their joint statements to the press in Beijing, they ignored shouted questions from American reporters in the Great Hall of the People. When they ducked backstage, Xi summoned his interpreter and posed an inquiry to Trump:
“Who is Roy Moore?” Xi asked.
That moment, described by two White House officials who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about private conversations, underscores Trump’s domestic challenges. He must grapple with the uncertain fate of his tax cut plan, face the threat of a government shutdown and decide whether to cut ties with Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama’s special Senate race, who is accused of sexually assaulting underage girls decades ago.
Four women last week alleged that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One, Leigh Corfman, alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old.
A fifth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, on Monday alleged that Moore sexually assaulted her and tried to force her to have sex with him when she was 16 years old.
Moore has denied the allegations and remained in the race, amid a flood of Republican officials who have called for him to step down.
Additional reporting by TPM.