Ivanka Trump spoke out for the first time against embattled Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing sexual relationships with teenagers when he was in his early thirties. Her father, President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has largely stayed mum on the issue.
“There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview otherwise focused on tax reform published Wednesday.
“I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts,” the first daughter and presidential adviser said.
However, according to the report, Trump did not explicitly call for Moore to drop out of the race. Alabamans head to the polls December 12, and Moore has given no indication he will step aside.
Trump, who has been focused on tax reform in recent weeks, has also made women’s economic empowerment central to her West Wing portfolio. This is the first time she has spoken out specifically about Moore, as allegations of sexual harassment by powerful men have dominated the news cycle in recent weeks.
Speaking in Japan earlier this month, Trump alluded to a more widespread problem facing women in the workplace: “All too often, our workplace culture fails to treat women with appropriate respect. This takes many forms, including harassment, which can never be tolerated,” she said.
And when her own father’s remarks describing sexual assault in a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape resurfaced during the 2016 election, Ivanka Trump said his words were “offensive” and “jarring.”
“He recognizes it was crude language,” Trump said weeks before the election at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit. “That’s not language consistent with any conversation I’ve ever had with him certainly or any conversation I’ve overheard, so it was a bit jarring for me to hear, and he was very sincere in his apology.”
Now over a year later, the President has refrained from publicly commenting on the Moore revelations, which unfolded as he was abroad in Asia. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on behalf of the President that Moore should drop out if the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him are true. Speaking with reporters in Vietnam, the President declined to comment further, saying he had not been following the issue closely.
Behind the scenes, the President and his advisers are closely watching the developments in Alabama’s special election, two sources close to the White House and a White House official said.
Trump, one source said, believes the allegations of child sexual abuse and sexual assault against Moore are bad for the Republican brand but has decided to wait and see how the situation shakes out before publicly commenting.
That silence is in large part rooted in his own history of facing sexual misconduct allegations, a Republican close to the White House told CNN.
In conversations in the West Wing on Wednesday, Trump expressed apprehension about being dragged into the topic of sexual assault or harassment if he weighs in.
“He’s worried about the conversation moving to his past accusers,” the Republican familiar with the matter said, noting that the President believes his accusers were unfair and some of Moore’s may be, too.