White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump's controversial endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore amid mounting sexual misconduct allegations.
Sanders said that while the president viewed the accusations, which include Moore allegedly sexually touching a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30s, “very troubling,” ultimately, it's important for the administration and the party's agenda that a Democrat doesn't win the upcoming special election next week. Moore has denied the misconduct allegations but says he may have dated teenagers when he was in his 30s.
Sanders was asked bluntly: “Is it the White House position then, formally, that it is worse to have a Democrat in that Senate seat than somebody who is accused of sexually abusing a teen girl?”
“Look, as I said, we find the allegations to be troubling,” Sanders responded.
“Then why did the president endorse?” Sanders was asked.
“Look, I think that those are different things in terms of we aren't going to be the ones who determine that process,” the White House spokesperson said. “That's for the people of Alabama to determine what those things come down on.”
Later, Sanders was again asked to answer for Trump's controversial endorsement. “Isn't there a moral decision that you are making here?” CNN's Jim Acosta asked.
“This is someone who has been accused of child abuse, of molesting children,” Acosta continued. “How can that vote in the Senate be that important that you would take a gamble on somebody who has been accused of molesting kids?”
Sanders reiterated that Trump found the allegations concerning but that, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell argued, it's up to Alabama to decide.
“I said we find the allegations very troubling. And again, this is up to the people of Alabama to make that decision. I'm not a voter in Alabama and can't make that decision.”
The president fully backed the embattled Republican candidate on Monday, reportedly calling Moore and telling him he's a “fighter” and encouraging him to “go get 'em, Roy.”
Trump is set to hold a rally just miles outside of Alabama on Friday ahead of the election, and the president's daughter-in-law has been making robo-calls asking Alabamians to attend the event.
“Hi, this is Lara Trump, calling on behalf of my father-in-law, President Donald Trump,” the recording reportedly says. “I'm incredibly excited to invite you to an event in your area. A special rally event featuring President Donald Trump will take place on Friday, December 8, at the Pensacola Bay Center.”
Watch Sanders's exchange with Acosta below, via CNN.