President Donald Trump on Sunday took aim at Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones, linking the Democrat to the party’s congressional leaders as his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, faces allegations of sexual misconduct.
Trump tweeted that Jones “would be a disaster” if elected in the Dec. 12 special election to succeed Republican Jeff Sessions, whose appointment as Trump’s attorney general caused the vacancy.
The president’s morning tweets came as the ongoing wave of sexual misconduct allegations both inside and outside government were a main topic of discussion on the Sunday morning talk shows. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who is under a House Ethics Committee investigation related to allegations of sexual harassment, deserves “due process.” Hours later, Conyers, 88, said he would relinquish a leadership role as the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
In his tweet about Jones, Trump suggested the former U.S. Attorney for Birmingham Alabama would be controlled by Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning.
Trump wrote in a subsequent tweet: “I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough. Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be BAD!”
Strange, a Republican appointed to fill Sessions’ seat earlier in the year, lost in a September primary to Moore. Trump had endorsed Strange in that race.
Nine women have accused Moore, 70, of sexual misconduct since a Washington Post article earlier this month detailed several allegations. That report included the account of a woman who said Moore undressed her and touched her inappropriately when she was 14 and he was in his 30s.
Last week, Trump appeared to endorse Moore for the first time since the allegations surfaced. He told reporters outside the White House: “I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.”
When asked by reporters if Moore was “better than a Democrat,” Trump responded: “Well, he denies it . . . . And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said, 40 years ago, this did not happen.”
The allegations against Moore have caused a fissure in the Republican Party. Top leaders swiftly condemned Moore, and Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and one of his advisers, told The Associated Press last week, “There is 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.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said: “So, you know, ultimately the decision’s up to the people of Alabama, but it strikes me at least that it would be on their best interest and in the country’s best interest, and certainly the best interest of our agenda, if the president would use his influence to try to get Roy Moore to step aside,” Thune said. He and other Republicans noted that a Moore win would jeopardize the Republicans’ ability to lead in the Senate.
“There’s going to immediately be an ethics investigation, which is going to be a cloud that he’ll be operating in, and it’s going to be a distraction for us and for our agenda,” Thune said.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump “is definitely trying to throw a lifeline to Roy Moore.”
“I don’t know what winning looks like with Roy Moore,” he said, noting that a victory for Moore would bring chaos to the Senate and Republican Party. “What I would tell President Trump is if you think winning with Roy Moore is going to be easy for the Republican Party, you’re mistaken.”
Pelosi told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that “John Conyers is an icon in our country. He’s done a great deal to protect women” and cited his work supporting legislation that protects women against violence.
After Conyers’ announcement, Pelosi issued a statement, “Zero tolerance means consequences. I have asked for an ethics investigation, and as that investigation continues, Congressman Conyers has agreed to step aside as Ranking Member.”
She added, “We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment. I commend the brave women coming forward.”
She noted that the House of Representatives will next week move to require all members and staff to attend anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training.
Appearing with Graham on CNN, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who faces accusations that he had groped several women, “has acknowledged what he did was wrong, and it was wrong.”
Durbin noted that Franken “has submitted his whole case to the Senate Ethics Committee. . . . Let’s have a hearing, an investigation . . . through a due process.”
Durbin said that while other officials have dodged sexual misconduct allegations, “You have to say that Al Franken has faced it. And he’s done it in a responsible way. I think it’s the way to approach it.”
Anita Hill, who brought the issue of sexual harassment to the national forefront in 1991 when she testified in Senate hearings against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for Supreme Court justice, spoke on “Meet the Press” of the shifting attitude toward victims.
“I think we’re really at the tip of the iceberg here,” she said. “We haven’t heard from everyone, but we’ve heard from enough women to know that this is a severe problem and that it’s hurting not only those individuals, but that it’s hurting all of us as a society.”