Roy Moore allegations: bipartisan politicians call Trump’s response too weak
Politicians from both sides of the aisle said on Sunday Donald Trump’s handling of allegations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, was not good enough and he should call for Moore to withdraw.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, the US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, repeated the White House line that was first articulated by the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders.
“If the allegations prove to be true, he should step down,” he said.
Dick Durbin, a Democratic senator from Illinois, countered that it was Trump’s “responsibility to do more when it comes to this situation in Alabama”.
John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, agreed the White House response was not good enough and added that he had thought Moore, a hardline Christian conservative twice removed from his state’s supreme court, “too divisive of a person to go … to the Senate” even before the allegations were made.
The Washington Post reported this week that an Alabama woman said Moore had sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Three other women told the Post Moore had sexual contact with them when they were teenagers.
Moore, 70, has denied the allegations and said they were politically motivated. On Saturday, he told a Republican audience in a suburb of Birmingham: “In the next few days, there will be revelations about the motivations and the content of this article that will be brought to the public. We fully expect the people of Alabama to see through this charade.”
On Air Force One on Saturday Trump, who is travelling in Asia, referred reporters to Sanders’ original statement, although he did add that he did not know about Moore’s case because he did “not watch much television”.
Trump himself has been accused by least 16 women of sexual misconduct or assault. He has denied the allegations and Sanders said last month all those women were lying.
On Sunday, Mnuchin was asked if the weight of claims against Moore might be enough to disqualify him. He said: “I’m not an expert on this issue but what I would say is that people should investigate this issue and get the facts. And if these allegations are true, absolutely this is incredibly inappropriate behaviour.”
Asked if he believed the four women, Mnuchin conceded that it “appears that there is a significant issue here that needs to be addressed”.
Durbin and Kasich also spoke to CNN. Durbin said: “A lot of my Republican colleagues … feel very passionately about this. They’ve spoken out on it and I respect them for doing it. It’s time for the president to do the same.”
Kasich, who fought Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, said: “Look, I wasn’t for [Moore] in the beginning … there’s a growing list of people that think he ought to step aside and not be the standard bearer.”
Moore, who has said “homosexual conduct should be illegal” and contended that the 9/11 attacks were a case of divine retribution, is backed by the populist wing of the Republican party, a force fuelled by the former Trump counsellor Steve Bannon.
In a week that saw Democratic gains in state and local elections, establishment figures including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, have called on Moore to step aside. Trump backed McConnell’s preferred candidate in the primary, then switched his support to Moore.
Kasich continued: “So many people now in Alabama are saying: ‘Yeah, we believe her,’ and you have Republicans like John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Kasich saying he should step aside, [so] yes, of course he should [step down].”
Moore cannot be removed from the ballot in the 12 December special election, which will fill the seat vacated by the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Kasich would not say Alabamans should vote for Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, but he pointed to another Republican Senate election success against a populist insurgent.
He said: “I think he should step aside. If not maybe [we] can get a write-in candidate. Lisa Murkowski did it in Alaska, she was elected, I think she’s urging somebody down there to do that.”
Local Republicans have been supportive of Moore, who is strongly backed by evangelical voters. On Saturday, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, told the Associated Press the allegations “if true, are devastating”.
But he hinted at likely resilience among Moore supporters when he said that for evangelical voters “there’s so much at stake. Those of us who are pro-life have got to be very concerned about losing even one seat in the US Senate.”
Other Republicans also weighed in. Tim Scott, a senator from South Carolina, told CBS’s Face the Nation Moore’s “denial was not as strong as the allegations” and said the GOP “ought to be a party focused on principles”.
Pat Toomey, a senator from Pennsylvania, told NBC’s Meet the Press “the preponderance of the evidence seems to support the accuser” and said he “would prefer for Roy to step aside” in favour of a write-in candidate.
Like Kasich, Toomey would not be drawn on whether Republicans in the Senate should work with Moore if he is elected regardless.
via Guardian U.S. http://bit.ly/2szDb9W
November 12, 2017 at 08:57AM