US President Donald Trump issued his most explicit endorsement to date of embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, including one who was 14 at the time.
Trump had previously characterised the allegations, first reported by The Washington Post, as very troubling, before changing tack and warning voters in Moore’s home state of Alabama that a victory for his Democratic rival Doug Jones would be a disaster.
Yesterday, he cited Democrats’ opposition to his legislative agenda, including tax cuts, as reasons for his support.
“Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive tax cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama,” he tweeted.
“We need his vote on stopping crime and illegal immigration.”
Moore, a 70-year-old Christian conservative with a history of controversy stemming from his tenure on Alabama’s supreme court, had been a strong favourite to win the rightwing state’s special election next Tuesday before the allegations broke.
Most of the allegations about Moore relate to when he was a prosecutor in his mid-30s and sought to pursue relationships with teens.
One of the women, Leigh Corfman, now 53, said that when she was 14 Moore took her into his house in the woods near Gadsden, Alabama, removed her shirt and pants, and fondled her. Moore has denied the allegations. The race, which is being held to replace Jeff Sessions who was named US attorney-general, has national repercussions because Republicans hold only a slim 52-to-48 majority in the senate.
Allegations of sexual harassment have plagued both main political parties in recent weeks.
Democrat John Conyers, a celebrated civil rights activist who is the longest-serving member of Congress, said he was stepping down from a leadership position last month as he battled harassment claims from members of his staff.
Trump himself has been accused of misconduct by several women, ranging from groping to unwanted advances and kissing.