President Trump defended embattled U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama on Friday by trying to undercut the credibility of a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 16.
At a campaign rally just over the Alabama state line in Pensacola, Fla., Trump tried to buttress Moore’s argument that Beverly Young Nelson forged his signature on her high school yearbook. Nelson and her attorney, Gloria Allred, cite the yearbook as evidence that Moore pursued Nelson sexually when he was in his 30s.
Nelson told ABC News on Friday that she had written notes beneath the inscription that she says Moore wrote in her yearbook, but stood by her statement that he wrote the inscription, signed it and later sexually assaulted her.
“So did you see what happened today, you know, the yearbook?” Trump asked the cheering crowd. “Did you see that? There was a little mistake made. She started writing things in the yearbook.
“Gloria Allred, any time you see her, you know something’s going wrong,” Trump continued.
Allred represents Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s television show, “The Apprentice,” who is suing the president for allegedly groping and kissing her against her will in 2007, then defaming her by calling her a liar after she spoke out about it last year.
Allred said Friday that a handwriting expert had confirmed that Moore signed Nelson’s yearbook.
Nelson says that when she was 16, Moore was supposed to be giving her a ride home when he parked the car, groped her breasts, tried to shove her face in his crotch and bruised her neck before she stopped the assault.
Trump’s comments on Nelson came at a rally at which he cast his presidency as a huge success on a wide range of issues.
Trump also hammered Moore’s Democratic rival, Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney. If Jones wins Alabama’s special election Tuesday to fill the seat of Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions, the Republicans’ majority in the Senate will narrow to 51-49.
Trump called Jones a “total puppet” of Democratic leaders in the House and Senate.
“We can’t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” he said.
Jones has stressed jobs, education and healthcare in his campaign, while reminding Alabama voters that he supports gun rights. He has tried to play down his support for abortion and gay rights.
Jones, who prosecuted Ku Klux Klansmen in the deadly 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, is counting on overwhelming support from African Americans.
He would normally stand little chance of winning a Senate seat in deeply conservative Alabama, but allegations of sexual misconduct by Moore have made the race competitive.