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Trump has no comment on Roy Moore because he doesn't 'watch much TV'

Trump has no comment on Roy Moore because he doesn't 'watch much TV'
US news | The Guardian  /  Martin Pengelly and agencies

Vietnam's president, Tran Dai Quang, and Donald Trump attend a state dinner in Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnam's president, Tran Dai Quang, and Donald Trump attend a state dinner in Hanoi on Saturday. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Asked about allegations against the Republican Senate nominee, Trump said 'I don't get to watch much television. Primarily because … I'm reading documents'

Donald Trump on Saturday deflected questions about whether the Republican Roy Moore should drop out of the Alabama Senate race over allegations of sexual misconduct, insisting that because he does "not watch much television" he did not feel qualified to comment.

Travelling in Asia, the president told reporters: "I've been with you folks, so I haven't gotten to see too much. And believe it or not, even when I'm in Washington or New York, I do not watch much television."

Numerous reports have detailed Trump's TV-watching habits, including large screens in the White House residence, tuned to cable news. His tweeting habits have frequently been shown to follow content on certain shows, particularly the Fox News morning magazine, Fox & Friends.

The Washington Post reported this week that an Alabama woman said Moore had sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. On Air Force One, Trump referred reporters back to a written statement that was read by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after the Post report was published.

The White House statement said Trump believes Moore will "do the right thing and step aside" if the decades-old allegations are true.

Trump himself faces allegations of sexual misconduct or assault from at least 16 women. Last month, Sanders said all those women were lying.

Moore is a hardline conservative Christian and former state supreme court judge, twice removed for unconstitutional behaviour. He is also known for controversial statements, including that "homosexual conduct should be illegal" and that the 9/11 terror attacks on the US were a case of divine retribution. He has also spoken in praise of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

In an interview with conservative radio host Sean Hannity on Friday, Moore said the alleged encounter with the 14-year-old "never happened". "I don't know Ms Corfman from anybody," he said. "I never talked to her, never had any contact with her. The allegations of sexual misconduct with her are completely false. I believe they're politically motivated."

Three other women told the Post Moore had sexual contact with them when they were teenagers. Speaking to Hannity, Moore said: "With regard to the other girls, you understand this is 40 years ago and, after my return from the military, I dated a lot of young ladies."

He also said he did not "remember ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother".

On Air Force One, Trump was asked when he would decide if Moore did what he has been accused of, given that four women had come forward. He said: "Honestly, I'd have to look at it and I have to see." He also said he was busy "dealing with the president of China, the president of Russia".

Trump also said: "People that don't know me, they say I like to watch television – people with fake sources. You know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don't get to watch much television. Primarily because of documents. I'm reading documents. A lot.

"And different things. I actually read much more – I read you people much more than I read television. But anyway. So I have not seen very much about him, about it. And you know I put out a statement yesterday that he'll do the right thing."

In a week that saw sweeping Democratic gains in state and local elections, the allegations against Moore have sparked concern among Republicans protecting a 52-48 majority in the Senate. But they have produced little more than a shrug from many Republicans in Alabama, which will hold a special election on 12 December to fill the seat formerly held by attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Jim Zeigler, the state auditor, told the Washington Examiner: "Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There's just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual."

A state representative, Ed Henry, was quoted by the Cullman Times, as saying of Moore's accusers: "If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them."

Moore's Democratic opponent is Doug Jones, an attorney who prosecuted two members of the Ku Klux Klan over the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, in which four young African American girls were killed. Before the allegations against Moore were reported, senior figures including former vice-president Joe Biden campaigned for Jones in the state, as the party sniffed an unlikely election success.

Moore was not Trump's preferred candidate to take on Jones. The president endorsed and campaigned for Luther Strange, the man appointed to fill Sessions' seat temporarily. After Moore defeated Strange in the Republican primary, Trump deleted tweets in support of the loser and pledged to campaign for Moore.

Establishment Republicans including Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have said Moore should step aside if the allegations against him are true. On Friday, the Utah senator Mike Lee withdrew his endorsement and the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut off fundraising support. Two former presidential candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney, said Moore should stand down now.

Moore is however backed by the populist wing of the party. Steve Bannon, formerly chief White House strategist, now back at the hard-right Breitbart News but still a key influence on the president, told a New Hampshire audience on Thursday the allegations against Moore were part of a liberal media conspiracy.

On Air Force One on Saturday, Trump suggested he would have more to say after he returns to the White House next week.

"I'll stick with my statement for now," he said. "But I'll have further comment as we go down the road. I have to get back into the country to see what's happening."

Original Article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/11/trump-has-no-comment-on-roy-moore-because-he-doesnt-watch-much-tv

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