White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says President Donald Trump finds the sexual misconduct allegations against U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama 'disturbing' and says it is up to the people of Alabama to decide whether he should keep his seat. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Donald Trump believes Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore should step aside if sexual misconduct allegations against him are true, the White House said on Thursday, while state party leaders in Alabama vowed to stand by their nominee. Trump's stance puts him at odds with other Republican leaders in Washington who have said they believe the women making the accusations against the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice and have demanded Moore withdraw from the race ahead of the Dec. 12 vote. "The president believes that these allegations are very troubling and should be taken seriously, and he thinks that the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their next senator should be," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a news briefing. "The president said in his statement earlier this week that if the allegations are true, then Roy Moore should step aside. He still firmly believes that," she said. Trump supported the Republican National Committee's decision to withdraw resources from the race, Sanders added. At least seven women have accused Moore of sexual improprieties they said occurred decades ago. Several were teenagers at the time. Moore, 70, has denied the accusations and said he is the victim of a witch hunt. The allegations are "not only untrue but they have no evidence to support them," Moore told a news conference on Thursday after about 20 supporters, including religious leaders, said they still backed his candidacy. The Alabama Republican Party also chimed in on Thursday, saying its 21-member steering committee would continue to support Moore. "He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise," Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said in a statement. Reuters was unable to independently verify the allegations by the women.