President Donald Trump returns to Washington D.C. on Tuesday night facing a big decision on what to do with Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore.
The president remains the only major Republican leader who has not withdrawn his support of Moore or has called for him to quit the Alabama Senate race.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Moore to quit on Monday and House Speaker Paul Ryan joined calls for him to quit on Tuesday.
During his trip to Asia, the president dismissed questions about the accusations against Moore, although he issued a statement noting that he believed the former judge would “do the right thing.”
But he told reporters he planned to have “further comment” when he returned to Washington, D.C.
“I have to get back into the country to see what’s happening,” Trump said on Saturday during his flight to Vietnam when asked if his opinion had changed.
But in Trump’s absence, McConnell spoke with Vice President Mike Pence, discussing the options for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down and run for his old Senate seat as a write-in candidate or return as an appointed Senator, according to the New York Times.
Sources close to Sessions say he is not interested in returning to the Senate as part of a McConnell engineered Roy Moore bailout.
It’s unclear whether Moore would step aside from the race, even if the president asked him to.
Moore’s Senior campaign adviser Brett Doster said that he would not drop out of the race, even if Trump asked him to.
“Nothing is getting him out,” he said. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Moore plans to host an event with supportive pastors Tuesday night, as he continues to fight back the allegations.
Officially White House officials have already distanced themselves from Moore in Trump’s absence, but have publicly reserved judgment on whether the allegations are true.
“There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia Chuck, I mean that’s reality,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on MSNBC’s Meet the Press. “But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway denied knowing Moore, and suggested that he should step aside if the allegations were true.
“If there’s anyone currently in public office who has behaved that way to any girl or any woman, maybe they should step aside, because, in a country of 330 million people, we ought to be able to do better than this,” she said in an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
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