HERE IS how President Trump responded Tuesday to questions about Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP nominee for U.S. Senate accused of sexually molesting, assaulting and harassing teenage girls when he was in his 30s:
President Trump: “I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat . . .”
Q: “Is Roy Moore, a child molester, better than a Democrat? He’s an accused —”
President Trump: “Well, he denies it. . . . He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it. . . . Forty years is a long time. He’s run eight races, and this has never come up.”
Here is what a presidential president might have said:
“I cannot in good conscience support Roy Moore. As Marc Short, my director of legislative affairs, put it earlier this month, ‘There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia.’ I have many policy disagreements with Mr. Moore’s opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, but none of them can matter more than basic human decency.
“Americans enjoy the presumption of innocence in criminal cases. But in the court of public opinion — and at the ballot box — we all get to make our own judgments. The allegations against Mr. Moore have only become more credible, and Mr. Moore’s denials less believable, since Leigh Corfman accused him of inappropriately touching her when she was 14 years old and he was 32. The volume and consistency of complaints that have emerged since, along with comments from those who knew him at the time, such as a colleague who said ‘it was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls,’ have only bolstered their stories.
“It is true that Mr. Moore has strongly denied the allegations. But vociferousness and bluster do not translate into innocence. If those accused of sexual misconduct were judged on the vehemence of their denials, then only the contrite would suffer consequences, and very few victims would ever see justice.
“The nation is experiencing a long-overdue moment in which women are recounting upsetting stories that they have hidden, sometimes for many, many years. The age of their stories does not discredit them. It can be hard for women to speak up. They often have nothing to gain — and much to lose, particularly when powerful people have hurt them.
“As one revelation follows another, it becomes ever more obvious that existing practices have not protected women. That is why today I am establishing a presidential commission to draw up recommendations to systemically fight the too-pervasive problem of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace. I will expect a report with concrete recommendations in three months.
“And let’s be clear: This is not a partisan issue, as recent revelations in Congress show, and none of us should seek partisan advantage from it. Instead, we should thank Leigh Corfman and all the others who have had the courage to come forward — and we should honor their bravery by insisting on higher standards of behavior in public life. That starts with making sure that a predator such as Roy Moore never takes a seat in the U.S. Senate.”
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