White House official: Roy Moore has 'more explaining' to do

Roy Moore speaks in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)
Roy Moore speaks in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/AP)

White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short said on Sunday that if the allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are true, there’s a “special place in hell” for him.

“I think that there’s a special place in hell for those who actually perpetrate these crimes,” Short said in an interview with Chuck Todd on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC. “And I think Roy Moore has to do more explaining than he has done so far.”

But Short also cautioned against a rush to judgment against the Senate hopeful. “I think we here in Washington have to be careful as well in this,” Short said. “Roy Moore is somebody who graduated from West Point, he served our country in Vietnam, he’s been elected multiple times statewide in Alabama. The people in Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in D.C., and I think we have to be very cautious.”

Short added: “If more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this, then sure, by all means he should be disqualified. But that’s a huge ‘if,’ and I think we have to allow that more facts come out.”

Todd asked Short if the White House would step in if the evidence pointed to Moore’s guilt.

“There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia, Chuck,” Short replied. “I mean, that’s reality.”

On Thursday, the Washington Post published a bombshell story quoting a woman, Leigh Corfman, who alleged that Moore had attempted sexual relations with her when she was 14 and he was 32. The story also quoted three other women who said Moore hit on them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his 30s. Moore initially dismissed the entire report as “fake news” and an attack by “the Democratic Party and the country’s most liberal newspaper.”

On Friday, Moore denied even knowing Corfman, who told the Post she and her mother first met him outside an Alabama courthouse in 1979 when he was an assistant district attorney.

“I don’t know Ms. Corfman from anybody,” Moore said in a radio interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Other top White House officials were asked about the claims against Moore on Sunday.

On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Treasury Steven Mnuchin also said Moore should drop out of the race “if the allegations prove to be true.”

“I only know what I see on TV and what I read in the paper,” Mnuchin said. “I’m not an expert on this issue, but what I would say is, people should investigate this issue and get the facts.”

When pressed, Mnuchin said “it appears that there is a significant issue here that needs to be addressed.”

On ABC’s “This Week,” Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s special counselor, said that “the conduct as described should disqualify anyone from serving in public office.”

“The president and others in the Republican Party have made clear that if the allegations are true, this man should step aside,” Conway said. “But I’ve gone farther than that, and I’ve reflected something the vice president said as well, which is everybody should know that conduct is disqualifying.”

Conway was asked if she had doubts Moore’s accusers were telling the truth.

“I know what I read. I don’t know the accusers. And I don’t know Judge Moore,” she said. “But I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press. He has denied the allegations. I have read the stories. I have heard not the testimony and the evidence, but what people are saying publicly.”

She added: “Let me say it one last time, the conduct as described is not just offensive and disgusting, it disqualifies anyone who has done it from holding public office. So let me go a little step farther: If there’s anyone currently in public office who has behaved that way to any girl or any woman, maybe they should step aside, because in a country of 330 million people, we ought to be able to do better than this.”

Moore speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., last month. (Photo: James Lawler Duggan/Reuter)
Moore speaks at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., last month. (Photo: James Lawler Duggan/Reuter)

Aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters the president “believes that we cannot allow a mere allegation — in this case, one from many years ago — to destroy a person’s life.”

“However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside,” Sanders added. “Regardless, the president must and will remain focused on representing our country on his historic trip to Asia where he has been treated with great respect and made unprecedented progress in further strengthening alliances and promoting America’s interests above all else.”

Short said on Sunday that he expects Trump will address the Moore scandal in more detail this week following his 12-day overseas trip.

“I think the president’s been on an incredibly important foreign trip,” Short said. “When he returns I’m sure we’ll have the chance to discuss this.”

Read more from Yahoo News: