Political News

Trump's double-talk on wave of sexual misconduct allegations

Posted November 21, 2017 6:36 p.m. EST

— President Donald Trump is "very happy" sexual misconduct in American society is being "exposed."

That is, unless the allegations negatively affect him.

Trump on Tuesday responded publicly for the first time to the wave of allegations of sexual misconduct against men in media and politics -- ranging from inappropriate behavior to sexual harassment and sexual assault -- by calling the recent weeks during which the allegations have surfaced a "very special time."

"Women are very special. 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. And I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out, and I'm very happy it's being exposed," Trump said Tuesday when asked about his message to women.

But when the questions focused on Alabama's Senate Republican nominee Roy Moore, he gave more credence to Moore's denials than the allegations by women who have accused Moore of sexual abuse when the women were in their teens.

Several women have come forward and accused Moore of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, and a couple others have accused him of assault.

He has denied the allegations.

"He denies. I mean, Roy Moore denies it. And, by the way, he gives a total denial," Trump said.

Trump's message to Alabama voters was clear: Moore's denials outweigh the allegations being leveled against him.

The argument was a similar one that Republican surrogates made in Trump's favor when he faced allegations of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, from more than a dozen women a month before the 2016 presidential election. Better Trump than his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, many prominent Republicans said.

Trump spent much of the final month of his campaign disparaging the women who came out to accuse him of sexual misconduct, from suggesting they were too unattractive for him to be interested in sexually assaulting them to threatening to sue them for defamation. (The lawsuit Trump promised never materialized.)

As President, Trump has continued to wholly reject the women's accounts as "made-up stuff" and "fake news," a position backed up from the White House podium by the press secretary Sarah Sanders.

When it comes to Moore, Trump made clear Tuesday he is more focused on the political impact of losing another Republican in the Senate at a time when he is still grasping for the first signature legislative accomplishment of his presidency. The already uneasy prospect of passing tax reform would be that much more in danger with a Senate Republican majority of just 51 Republicans, instead of 52.

And while more than a dozen Senate Republicans -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- have called for Moore to drop out of the race, Trump has decided the potential political cost to his political and policy agenda will likely be too great to call for the same, sources familiar with his thinking said.