Trump all but endorses GOP’s Moore despite sex accusations
By ZEKE MILLER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore on Tuesday, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moore’s “liberal” rival.
The president said he would announce next week whether he will campaign for Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump, who won election despite facing more than a dozen accusations of sexual misconduct himself, dismissed questions from reporters about backing a Republican accused of sexual assault over a man who is a Democrat. Trump pointed to Moore’s assertions that he did nothing wrong.
“Roy Moore denies it, that’s all I can say,” Trump said. In fact, he repeated 10 times in a 5-minute session outside the White House that the GOP candidate has denied any wrongdoing.
Two Alabama women have accused Moore of assault or molestation — including one who says she was 14 at the time — and six others have said he pursued romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s.
Trump didn’t explicitly say he was endorsing Moore, but he said with emphasis, “We don’t need a liberal person in there. … We don’t need somebody who’s soft on crime like Jones.”
He also noted that the allegations came from behavior alleged to have happened decades ago.
“Forty years is a long time,” Trump said, questioning why it took so long for Moore’s accusers to come forward.
Former Sen. Sessions has said he has no reason to doubt the allegations against Moore, Republican leaders in Washington have called for Moore to leave the race, and the White House has repeatedly said Trump himself felt Moore would “do the right thing and step aside” if the allegations proved true.
But Trump had been publicly silent until Tuesday when he exchanged questions and answers with reporters, shouting to be heard over the noise of his Marine helicopter, waiting to take him to Air Force One, which then flew him to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, for Thanksgiving.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, both Republicans, have called on Moore to leave the race in light of the accusations. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for his campaign.
Trump backed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a September Republican primary, but moved quickly to embrace Moore after he won. A White House official said Tuesday that Trump’s attack on Jones did not amount to a formal endorsement of Moore, only that Trump was communicating that sending the Democrat to Washington would hamper his agenda.
Republican leaders briefly explored the possibility of seeking a write-in candidate but have determined those efforts would only increase Jones’ chances by splitting the GOP vote in the Republican state. Sessions has resisted pleas to mount a last-minute campaign for his old seat.
The allegations against Moore come amid a national reckoning over misdeeds by powerful men in media, business and politics.
Just Tuesday, longtime Michigan Rep. John Conyers acknowledged that his office settled a sexual harassment complaint involving a former staffer, though he “vehemently” denied allegations in the complaint.
BuzzFeed reported that Conyers’ office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected the Democrat’s sexual advances.
Trump said he was “very happy” that women are speaking out about their experiences.
“I think it’s a very special time because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society and I think it’s very, very good for women,” he said.
More than a dozen women came forward in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election to say that Trump had sexually assaulted or harassed them over the years. He denied it. A tape was also released catching him boasting in 2005 that he could grab women’s private parts with impunity. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the “Access Hollywood” tape.
Trump, who has said all of his accusers lied, declined to answer Tuesday when asked why he does not believe Moore’s accusers.
Jones, Moore’s senatorial opponent, served as a federal prosecutor in Alabama, where he brought charges against two Ku Klux Klan members over their roles in killing four girls in the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham.
Jones began airing a new ad Monday that features statements made by Sessions, Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby and first daughter Ivanka Trump responding to the allegations against Moore.
Shelby, a fellow Republican, said he will “absolutely not” vote for Moore. Ivanka Trump said there’s “a special place in hell” for people who prey on children.
“I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts,” Ivanka Trump told the AP last week.
The ad was the first direct assault by the Jones camp against Moore on the allegations.
Moore’s camp has begun firing back at the media and one of the accusers. His campaign held an afternoon news conference to vigorously question the account of Beverly Nelson, who said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress.
The campaign quoted two former restaurant employees and a former customer who said they did not remember Nelson working there or Moore eating there.
AP writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, and Corey Williams in Detroit contributed.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women in particular.
“He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,” Kayla Moore said at a “Women for Moore” rally. Acting as her husband’s lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. “To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,” Moore said.
Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however, and certainly not all women.
“I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don’t know that I can vote for him anymore,” said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.
Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.
One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.
“I have not found any reason not to believe them …. They risked a whole lot to come forward,” Payne said of the accusers.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.
“We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,” Ivey said.
Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party’s brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.
The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.
The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election. Democrats already hoped to stand a chance against the polarizing jurist who was twice removed from chief justice duties because of defying court orders regarding the Ten Commandments and gay marriage.
A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.
One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won’t vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.
“My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, ‘Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,” James said.
But Kayla Moore says her husband is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in the Senate.
Decades ago, then known by her maiden name, Kayla Kisor, she was performing in a hometown dance recital when she first caught Roy Moore’s eye. As he wrote in his 2009 autobiography, seeing her was something he never forgot.
“Years later,” Moore wrote, when she was 23 — she’s 14 years his junior— he finally met her. They wed in 1985.
Now, Kayla Moore is doing more than standing by her husband — she’s his most aggressive defender against allegations threatening his Republican bid for U.S. Senate.
When Moore makes a public appearance, Kayla Moore is there. When something pops up on social media that could help his cause, she shares it on Facebook. And she was the star at the Statehouse rally in Montgomery.
Speakers there said the allegations against Moore were out of character for the man they have known for years.
“I do not recognize the man these ladies are describing,” Ann Eubank, a fixture in Alabama Republican politics, said of the accusers.
Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, held a “Moore is a pedophile” sign, a reference to the 14-year-old accuser.
Falvey, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.
“I think it’s really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he’s dragging us backwards,” Falvey said.
Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.
China’s 30-year deadline to rule the world
CHINA’S leader has laid out his ambitious plans for a superpower in a three-hour speech with huge implications for Australia.
He questioned what would happen once China’s prosperity ran out and the disparity between rural and city and the elite and the common man was more obvious.
Berlin (AFP) – Tough talks to form Germany’s next government collapsed Sunday as the four parties in talks failed to bridge a yawning gap over immigration policy.
Here are some of the thorniest issues that led to the failure.
– Immigration –
Migrants and refugees have been Germany’s toughest political issue since a mass influx from 2015 brought some 1.2 million asylum seekers, sparking a backlash that has seen the far-right AfD party enter parliament.
Merkel’s CDU and especially their more conservative CSU allies from Bavaria, where tens of thousands of refugees crossed over the border from Austria, are pushing to limit Germany’s annual intake to a benchmark figure of 200,000.
The Greens, who have long promoted migrant rights and a multicultural society, finally appear ready to accept the figure.
But they will not budge on their demand for a resumption of family reunions for those who have been granted temporary refuge in Germany, something opposed by both the CSU and FDP.
Amid alarm last year over the record influx of refugees, Berlin suspended reunifications until March 2018 for war refugees like Syrians, granting them only a year’s temporary protection which is renewable depending on the situation in their home countries.
The Greens want the suspension lifted, with negotiator Juergen Trittin telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper: “We will not accept that people who are already getting a lower status of protection by law are also excluded from family reunions. That is inhumane.”
They also reject a demand from the other parties to declare the North African nations of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia “safe countries of origin”, which would raise the bar for asylum applications for their citizens.
– Climate –
Germany, a clean-energy pioneer long praised for its shift to renewables, now risks missing its carbon reduction targets, largely because coal plants still account for about 40 percent of electricity production.
All parties say they are committed to Germany’s ambitious carbon goals for 2020 and beyond, but are fighting over how to do it.
The Greens have backed off their campaign demands to phase out coal as well as combustion-engine vehicles by 2030, in the face of tough opposition from the other parties which worry about the impact on the energy and auto sectors and job losses.
But they have reportedly rejected an offer to close Germany’s 10 dirtiest coal plants, having originally demanded that 20 be shuttered.
They are also pushing for a shift toward organic agriculture and steps to protect biodiversity and improve animal welfare.
– Europe –
All parties are pro-European and in favour of reforming the bloc but divided on how, especially when it comes to paying for it.
While the Greens are sympathetic to the vision of French President Emmanuel Macron and his proposals for a common eurozone budget and finance minister, the CDU is sceptical and the FDP outright hostile.
The FDP opposes any measures that would lead to the pooling of member states’ debts or the transfer of German cash to troubled economies.
The Greens are more open to the notion of “solidarity” with eurozone countries in trouble.
On Turkey, with whom Germany is embroiled in a bitter dispute centred on civil rights, the CSU wants to push for a definitive end to Ankara’s long-stalled EU entry talks.
The Greens argue that the door should be kept open for the era after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves office.
– Taxation –
The FDP has campaigned for tax cuts, and argue that planned reductions were not deep enough.
The pro-business party wants to scrap a solidarity tax aimed at helping eastern regions that are lagging economically.
But the Greens want greater public investments.