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After weeks of relative silence, President Donald Trump on Tuesday finally weighed in on the allegations of sexual assault against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
"He denies it, he denies it," Trump said of Moore, speaking on the South Lawn of the White House. "He says it didn't happen, and you have to listen to him also. And he said, 40 years ago, that this did not happen."
Nine women have alleged that Moore pursued inappropriate sexual relationships with them in the late 1970s and early 80s, when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s. Two of these women allege that Moore assaulted them when they were minors. Moore denies the allegations.
Trump stressed the need to keep Moore's opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, out of the Senate. "I can tell you one thing for sure — we don't need a liberal Democrat in there," he said.
The president brushed off questions about whether he believed the women's accounts, which have been corroborated by family members and witnesses. "Roy Moore denies it, that's all I can say, and by the way, he totally denies it," Trump said.
The comments were the first from the president himself in the nearly two weeks since The Washington Post published allegations by four women, the youngest of whom said she was 14 when Moore sexually assaulted her.
Since then, another five women have come forward to describe sexual advances by Moore that made them uncomfortable, and in a number of cases, made them feel violated.
Trump also left open the possibility that he would campaign for Moore in the coming weeks, ahead of a special election on December 12. Moore has fallen in the polls since news of the allegations first broke, and Trump enjoys widespread popularity with Alabama Republican voters.
"I'll be letting you know next week about campaigning," Trump told reporters as he prepared to board Marine One, adding, "We don't need someone who's soft on crime, like Jones," in the Senate.
Trump declined, however, to weigh in on separate allegations of sexual misconduct leveled recently against two Democratic members of Congress, Sen. Al Franken, D.Minn., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.
"I don't want to speak for Al Franken ... I don't know what happened," Trump said, noting that he had only just heard about allegations against Conyers "As far as Franken concerned, he should have to speak for himself," Trump said.
The president is in a precarious position on matters related to allegations sexual misconduct: During his 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women came forward to allege that Trump had groped or fondled them against their will.
As for Moore, additional reports indicate that at one point he was even banned from a local mall in Gadsden, Alabama, because of his aggressive sexual pursuit of teenage girls. At the time this allegedly occurred, Moore was working as a prosecutor in the District Attorney's office, a job that Moore's accusers say made him seem especially powerful.