In continuing to defend embattled Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore against allegations of sexual misconduct, President Donald Trump has broken with the majority of his party and perhaps even members of his own family, according to a new report. According to a report published Saturday by the New York Times, Trump was reportedly "annoyed" his daughter Ivanka Trump had criticized Moore after allegations of child molestation surfaced in the press earlier this month.
Three unnamed administration staff members told the New York Times Trump had expressed "disbelief" and "annoyance" about his eldest daughter's decision to speak out against Moore. "Do you believe this?" staff members reported Trump had asked aides in the Oval Office in reference to a statement Ivanka gave to the Associated Press on Nov. 15.
"There's a special place in hell for people who prey on children," Ivanka had told the news outlet when asked for her thoughts on Moore.
A total of nine women have levied allegations of sexual misconduct or unwanted romantic advances against Moore, a former judge. Among the allegations are claims Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl and either pursued or attempted to pursue relationships with other girls between the ages of 16 and 18 when he was in his 30s. Another woman accused the Alabama Senate candidate of sexually assaulting her in a car when she was 16. Moore, who is now 70, has repeatedly denied all of the allegations against him.
In her statement to the Associated Press, Ivanka went on to say she had no reason not to believe the women who had come forward with allegations against Moore. "I've yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims' accounts," the news agency reported she said.
However, while the first daughter did not, at the time, call for Moore to remove himself from Alabama's Senate race, her condemnation was quickly picked up by Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, and featured prominently in a campaign ad.
While multiple members of the Republican Party have urged Moore to step aside in Alabama's Senate race, the president has taken a different route. Although President Trump at first appeared hesitant to weigh in on Moore and the allegations of sexual misconduct against him, he has since continued to voice his support for the embattled GOP candidate. Trump has also appeared to express doubts about the truthfulness of the allegations levied against Moore.
In a brief statement delivered to reporters on the White House's South Lawn before boarding Marine One earlier this week, Trump appeared to be steadfast in his support of Moore "He denies it," Trump said of Moore. "He says it didn't happen and you have to listen to him also."
According to the New York Times, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had reportedly asked the president not to publicly throw his support behind Moore, or at the very least "keep his distance" from the candidate. Sen. McConnell is one of many prominent Republicans who have called for Moore to "step aside."
While it's unclear if President Trump confronted his daughter about his reported "annoyance" with her comments on Moore, it's worth noting that Ivanka has not spoken out about Moore or the allegations levied against him since her initial statement to the Associated Press.
President Trump isn't the only Republican to stand by Moore. Alabama's Republican Party has opted to stand behind their nominee, saying he "deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise" in a statement released Nov. 16. Alabama voters are expected to head to the polls to cast their votes Dec. 12.