President Donald Trump and his son are publicly warning Roy Moore against seeking a US Senate seat in Alabama, fearing that the allegations of sexual assault that torpedoed his bid two years ago will again cost Republicans a winnable election.
“Republicans cannot allow themselves to again lose the Senate seat in the Great State of Alabama. This time it will be for Six Years, not just Two,” the President tweeted early Wednesday. “I have NOTHING against Roy Moore, and unlike many other Republican leaders, wanted him to win. But he didn’t, and probably won’t.”
Moore, a former judge, has been teasing a Senate run in recent weeks to challenge incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, to whom he lost a 2017 special election. That race was dramatically shifted after a report published by The Washington Post, based on interviews with more than 30 people, said Moore pursued relationships with teenagers while he was in his 30s. One woman said she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her, though the legal age of consent in Alabama is 16. After the report, another woman came forward to accuse Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations and later sued three of the women, alleging a “political conspiracy.” The legal battle is still in the courts.
Neither the President – who endorsed Moore late in his 2017 bid – nor his son, Donald Trump Jr., referred to the allegations against Moore in their comments this week. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking to reporters about the President’s tweets Wednesday, also did not mention the allegations.
On Tuesday, Trump Jr. sparred on Twitter with Moore after Moore suggested that Alabama GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, who is currently in the Senate race, is “worried” that Moore could win the election.
“You mean like last time? You’re literally the only candidate who could lose a GOP seat in pro-Trump, pro-USA ALABAMA,” Trump Jr. tweeted. “Running for office should never become a business model. If you actually care about #MAGA more than your own ego, it’s time to ride off into the sunset, Judge.”
In a now-deleted tweet, Moore hit back.
“Before you were born my dad did ride off into the sunset to a place called Vietnam, where he fought for our country. He respects and supports the president, but only God will make America great again…FYI.”
Trump Jr. has previously criticized Republican candidates who he sees as unelectable. Last year, the President’s eldest son urged West Virginia Republicans to reject Don Blankenship – an ex-con coal baron with a history of controversial statements – in a primary because he felt Blankenship would be vulnerable in a general election.
“No more fumbles like Alabama,” Trump Jr. wrote at the time.
CNN’s Jamie Ehrlich, Sarah Westwood, Jeremy Diamond and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.