Trump plays down Roy Moore allegations, blasts 'liberal' rival in Alabama race

President Trump minimized allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore Tuesday, telling voters not to support Moore's Democratic opponent.

"I can tell you one thing for sure," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a Thanksgiving break at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. "We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat [Doug] Jones ... We do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment."

When pressed on the allegations against Moore, some of which date back 40 years, Trump said, "Look, he denies it ... He says it didn't happen, and you know, you have to listen to him also."

"Forty years is a long time," Trump added, questioning why it took so long for Moore's accusers to come forward.

The president did not rule out campaigning for Moore ahead of the Dec. 12 special election, telling the reporters, "I'll be letting you know next week." Trump backed Moore's defeated opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, in September's primary runoff election.


Six women have accused Moore of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s. Two have accused him of assault or molestation. Moore has denied the allegations.

Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have both called on Moore to leave the race in light of the accusations. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for Moore's campaign.

The allegations against Moore come amid a national reckoning over misdeeds by powerful men in media, business and politics. Trump said he is "very happy" that women are speaking out about their experiences.

"I think it's a very special time because 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 said.

More than a dozen women came forward in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election to say that Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years. He denied it. He was also caught on tape in 2005 boasting that he could grab women's private parts.

"When you're a star, they let you do it," Trump said on the "Access Hollywood" tape.

Trump declined to answer Tuesday when asked why he does not believe Moore's accusers.

Trump spoke moments after three of Moore's campaign surrogates held a press conference responding to some of the accusations against the 70-year-old Moore.

Attorney Ben Dupree described the allegations against Moore as "lies" circulated by "The Washington Post, the Republican establishment and the Democrat Party," who he said were waging a "three-front war to destroy Judge Roy Moore’s impeccable reputation."

The Moore campaign attempted to rebut claims by accusers Leigh Corfman, who claimed Moore molested her when she was 14; and Beverly Nelson, who said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress. They also questioned reports that claimed Moore had been banned from a mall in Gadsden, Ala. due to his behavior around young girls.

The campaign also issued a statement Monday night that quoted two former restaurant employees and a former customer who said they did not remember Nelson working there or Moore eating there.

"Allegations are words, they are not facts." Moore campaign spokesman Stan Cooke said. "Allegations are words, they are not indictments and they are not charges."

Jones began airing a new ad Monday that features statements made by Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and first daughter Ivanka Trump responding to allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore.

Sessions said he had no reason to doubt Moore's accusers. Shelby, a Republican, said he will "absolutely not" vote for Moore. Ivanka Trump said there's a special place in hell for people who prey on children.

The ad was the first direct assault by the Jones camp against Moore on the allegations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.