President Trump offered words of support for embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday afternoon, breaking days of silence after the former Alabama judge was accused of sexual molestation of teenage girls.
"He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a Thanksgiving trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. "I do have to say, 40 years is a long time."
Trump criticized Moore's opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, who has gained ground on Moore in a diehard Republican state. Alabama's special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions' old seat is on Dec. 12. "I can tell you one thing for sure. We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Trump said. “I’ve looked at his record, it’s terrible on crime, it’s terrible on the border, it’s terrible on the military.”
Trump didn't say whether he believed Moore's denials but suggested he might campaign for him. “I’ll be letting you know next week,” Trump said.
Trump has stayed quiet on the Moore controversy since it broke earlier this month, drawing speculation that he didn't want to refresh public memory of the "Access Hollywood" tape and allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled at him by more than a dozen women. But on Tuesday, Trump even commented on the larger trend of sexual harassment being exposed across multiple industries.
"Women are very special,” Trump said. “I think it’s a very special time, a lot of things are coming out and I think that’s good for our society. And I think it’s very, very good for women.”
Trump's comments marked a shift from earlier White House statements about Moore. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said Trump expected that if the allegations against Moore were true he "will do the right thing and step aside."
"Look, the president believes these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be," Sanders said last week.