With President Donald Trump far away on another continent and grappling with a public relations mess of his own, White House officials have been left on their own to try and halt the stampede of Republicans away from accused child molester Roy Moore.
The New York Times said that White House legislative director Marc Short said that Moore should be allowed to defend himself against the accusations, which appeared this week in a bombshell story in The Washington Post.
After a tumultuous first year in office, Trump’s slate of achievements is still woefully blank. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land and Congress showing little support for Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico, the administration is desperately hanging its hopes on a Republican majority in the Senate to push through its already wildly unpopular tax reform package.
“I think the president’s obviously on a very important trip, and when he returns I think we’ll have that conversation,” said Short on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”
Like many Republicans, Short said the allegations should disqualify Moore if they’re true, but declined to say what would convince him further after 30 sources confirmed Moore’s predilection for underage girls in the well-researched Post story.
“If more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this, then sure, by all means he should be disqualified,” he said. “But that’s a huge ‘if.’”
Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway bristled under questioning by ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday, refusing to be pinned down on whether or not she believes Moore’s accusers are telling the truth.
“(I)t would be a very dangerous precedent for any of us, for any person in this country to just be cast aside as guilty because of press reports,” said Conway.
Nonetheless, many in the GOP are trying to create distance between themselves and Moore, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who said he finds the accusations against Moore “more credible than the denial” and said it would be best if Moore withdrew from the race.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) called on Moore to remove his name from all campaign materials and withdrew his endorsement. Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Steve Daines (R-MT) withdrew their Moore endorsements on Friday.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) said, like Toomey, he finds the accusations against Moore more persuasive than Moore’s denials.
Some Republicans have called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not to seat Moore even if he does win Alabama’s special election.
The special election takes place on Tuesday, Dec. 12.