Trump says US Senate candidate should 'step aside' if allegations are true

Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore has insisted the claims are 'completely false'

News

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. Picture by: Brynn Anderson/AP/Press Association Images

11:48 10 Nov 2017 Stephen McNeice 11:48 Friday 10 November 2017

Donald Trump has said he believes a Republican Senate candidate in the US will 'step aside' if allegations about the GOP hopeful are true.

It comes after a woman claimed that Judge Roy Moore - the Republican candidate in Alabama for a vacant US Senate seat - 'initiated a sexual encounter' when she was 14 and he was 32.

The accusation came in a Washington Post report, with the incident alleged to have taken place in 1979 when Moore was an assistant district attorney.

Three other women told the paper that Moore "pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s [...] None of the three women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact".

Moore said the allegations were 'completely false' and a 'desperate political attack'.

However, the report led to a number of prominent Republicans, including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, calling for Moore to exit the race if the allegations are true.

During his ongoing Asian trip, President Trump - who had enthusiastically endorsed Moore's primary rival Luther Strange earlier this year - reacted to the allegations through a spokesperson.

In a statement to reporters quoted by Politico, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "Like most Americans, the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life.

"However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."

Mr Moore was defended by others. Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler told The Washington Examiner "there is nothing to see here", adding that Moore is "as clean as a hound’s tooth".

Ziegler argued: "The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.

"Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus."

The special election in Alabama - which was initiated after the state's previous senator Jeff Sessions resigned to serve as the US attorney general - is due to take place in December.

Polls to date have shown Moore with a lead over Democrat Doug Jones, with Republicans having held both the state's Senate seats since the 1990s.