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White House calls molestation claim against Roy Moore a 'mere allegation,' but says he should step aside if true

Senate candidate Roy Moore in Montgomery, Ala., in September. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)
Senate candidate Roy Moore in Montgomery, Ala., in September. (Brynn Anderson / Associated Press)

President Trump, under pressure to respond to an allegation that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore nearly four decades ago molested a 14-year-old girl, issued a noncommital statement through his press secretary Friday.

“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," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One. "However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside."

Sanders said Trump, on his way to address a summit of Pacific Rim nations in Vietnam, wanted to "remain focused on representing our country on his historic trip to Asia."

The allegation against Moore, first reported in the Washington Post, has put pressure on Trump and other Republicans who have endorsed Moore for a crucial seat in the closely divided Senate. It's an especially tricky issue for Trump, who has faced allegations of sexual harrassment and charged that his accusers were lying. During the campaign, he threatened to sue them, but did not follow through.

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