During testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicates he believes the numerous women who have accused Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct.
Asked by Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee (D-TX) if he believes Moore’s accusers, Sessions said, “I have no reason to doubt these young women.”
Sessions’ remarks stand in contrast to the White House’s stated position that sexual assault accusers often lie. During a news conference late last month, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if it is “the official White House position” that the at least 16 women who have accused President Trump of harassment or assault were liars. She said it in fact is.
“Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning and the president has spoken on it,” Sanders said.
As is the case with Moore, a number of the women who have accused Trump of misconduct have corroborating witnesses who they shared their stories with at the time of the alleged incidents. As the Washington Post noted in a piece comparing Moore and Trump, “[t]he similarity of their accounts, the absence of evident partisan or other improper motive, and the existence of contemporaneous corroboration all argue in favor of their credibility.”
Perhaps because of the uncomfortable similarities, the White House has tread lightly when talking about Moore, who Trump endorsed following his victory in the Republican primary despite Moore’s openly homophobic and Islamophobic views.
Talking to reporters aboard Air Force One last Friday, Sanders said that “like most Americans, the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case one from many years ago — to destroy a person’s life.”
“The President also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside,” Sanders added, without specifying what evidence could possibly prove the allegations.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Lee brought up Moore — who’s running to fill Sessions’ old Senate seat — because she wanted to know whether Sessions would be open to investigating any possible crimes Moore committed. Sessions assured her his department “will do our duty.”
Sessions was one of Trump’s most prominent supporters during a campaign whose final weeks were dominated by a flood of accusations made against Trump after a recording of him bragging about assaulting women was released. Like Moore is now doing, Trump vowed to sue his accusers, who he suggested were too ugly for him to assault.
After the so-called Access Hollywood recording was published by the Washington Post, Sessions defended Trump, telling Fox News, “This thing is overblown.”
“Everybody knows that Trump likes women,” Sessions added. “This is not a disqualifying event.”
At another point, Sessions said it was a “stretch” to say the behavior Trump was recorded bragging about rose to the level of sexual assault. But he walked that back during his confirmation hearing, telling senators that grabbing women by the genitals is in fact sexual assault.
“Clearly it would be…. yes,” he said.