If the White House starts believing women, they might just have to believe the 16 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
In a painfully awkward interview Sunday morning, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short spent six agonizing minutes refusing to say whether or not Donald Trump supports accused sexual predator Roy Moore in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Short repeatedly dodged questions about Trump’s support for Moore, who stands accused of sexual misconduct and child sexual abuse by nine different women.
Unlike many other Republican lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Trump has not publicly withdrawn his endorsement of Moore, even as a growing number of women have come forward accusing the candidate of sexual misconduct.
Host George Stephanopoulos pressed Short on Trump’s support for Moore, asking him repeatedly if Trump backs Moore’s Senate campaign.
Short first tried to justify Trump’s silence on the issue by noting that he was “halfway around the world” when the first allegations were made public.
But that flimsy excuse doesn’t explain why Trump has remained silent in the face of more recent allegations that were made public after he returned from his Asia trip. It also doesn’t explain why Trump felt it was appropriate to comment on Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken while ignoring the mounting accusations against Moore.
Stephanopoulos then showed a clip of Trump’s own Attorney General Jeff Sessions declaring that he believes the allegations and has “no reason to doubt these young women.”
The ABC host used Sessions’ own words to press Short on Trump’s position, asking: “Does the president have any reason to doubt these young women who are making the allegations?”
Short punted the question and awkwardly invoked Mike Pence, telling Stephanopoulos: “I think the vice president well spoke out against this when the allegations came forward.”
Short also said the White House has “concerns” about the timing of the allegations, implying that they may be politically motivated because they were made public in the weeks before the Alabama special election.
“We are concerned about several aspects of the story. We’re very concerned about the allegations,” Short said. He continued, saying the people of Alabama will ultimately make the decision.
“You’re not willing to make a yes or no judgment on whether the president believes the women?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I think I’ve answered the question three times now,” Short responded, before pivoting back to the primary election, when Trump backed Moore’s Republican challenger Luther Strange.
As Stephanopoulos pointed out, even though Trump didn’t endorse Moore in the primary election, he threw his support behind him once he became the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat.
“Is he still backing Roy Moore?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I don’t think you’ve seen him go down there to campaign for him. I don’t think you’ve seen him issue an endorsement. You’ve not seen him issue robocalls,” Short said. “I think he thinks at this point it is best for the people of Alabama to make the decision for their state.”
Stephanopoulos once again asked Short about Trump’s support for the accused sexual predator, to which Short responded: “I think the the president has spoken on this, and the White House has spoken on this.”
Despite Short’s repeated denials, Trump’s own public statements make it clear that he embraced Moore as the Republican candidate.
On Sept. 26, Trump tweeted his support for Moore, writing: “Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!”
The next day, Trump said in a tweet that he had spoken to Moore after his victory in Alabama’s GOP primary and that he “sounds like a really great guy.”
“Spoke to Roy Moore of Alabama last night for the first time,” Trump tweeted. “Sounds like a really great guy who ran a fantastic race. He will help to #MAGA!”
Trump’s refusal to distance himself from Moore appears to have emboldened the accused sexual predator, who has rejected calls to leave the Senate race despite losing the support of the Republican National Committee and the National Senatorial Committee, as well as much of Alabama’s faith community and the most conservative news outlet in the state.
On Sunday, all three major newspapers in Alabama joined together to denounce the Republican candidate, urging voters to “stand up for decency” by rejecting Moore and throwing their support behind his Democratic opponent Doug Jones.
Of course, Trump is walking a thin line here. If the White House starts believing women, they might just have to believe the 16 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct.