In this national #MeToo moment, President Donald Trump is rendering judgment that says, "not us."
It's a major moment that has the president of the United States standing with someone facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct – and against the word of eight separate women who alleged inappropriate contact – because Trump says Roy Moore didn't do anything wrong.
But mainly, and critically, the president is standing with Moore because he is a Republican.
"We don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat," the president said, leaving in the dust the White House line about letting the voters of Alabama decide, and his own daughter's stand on the side of Moore's accusers.
The deluge of accusers and accusations, of powerful men being exposed and humbled, gave Trump the room he craved to stand by his endorsement of Moore who, according to a Washington Post report, allegedly made sexual advances on a 14-year-old in the late 1970s. A staggering array of such men have been implicated in sexual misconduct in recent weeks, including a 2020 contender, the dean of the House of Representatives, and huge names in media and entertainment.
Trump is drawing his line at Moore. Like Trump himself, Moore is denying every allegation leveled against him. The president's longstanding campaign against so-called "fake news" makes it easier for Trump and Moore to fight any allegations they choose to question.
The fact that this moment is predictable doesn't make it less startling.
The president is seeking to define a new political normal – and no, it's not normal.
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Yes, when it comes to Alabama, the president made clear his priority is getting a Republican elected, but that does not mean he prioritized the Republican Party, with a capital "P."
The president could have suggested a write-in. He could have campaigned for an alternative Republican.
He could have said he needed a Republican in the seat, but not that one.
Instead, the president broke with large parts of his party when he broke his silence on the race Tuesday.
He chose to defend a candidate that other Republicans around the country said loudly they had no interest defending.
Of course, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and, arguably, every Republican up for re-election would prefer a Republican, but they decided taking on Moore specifically was not a tolerable liability.
The Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee had already exited the Alabama race. The chair of the NRSC, Sen. Cory Gardner, suggested expulsion if Moore wins the seat.
Each Republican who sided with the accusers and denounced Moore likely did so for a number of reasons. But one albeit more politically cynical possibility could be the power and sway of female voters.
According to a new Quinnipiac poll out yesterday, 89 percent of women think sexual harassment is a serious problem.
When asked if they would still consider voting for a political candidate who had been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, 70 percent of women said "definitely not."
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Additional documents released as part of a FOIA request show how frequently Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's wife travels with him on official trips and some of the headaches that has caused for his staff.
Interior says that it's a "non-story."
"DOI did not pay for the meal with the Governor and the Governor's wife," an agency spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. "The Secretary personally paid the State of Alaska for Mrs. Zinke's meal. Further, DOI incurred no expenses due to Mrs. Zinke's presence. Mrs. Zinke paid for her own commercial airfare home from Alaska."
Emails show that Zinke and his wife made last-minute decisions about her schedule on these official trips, leaving staff to figure out how her travel would be paid for and what should be submitted to the ethics office. Specifically on a congressional delegation to the Arctic Circle with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Zinke asked for his wife to accompany him to dinners and even stay in Alaska after the official trip was over.
"She said Mrs. Zinke said she was now going to head to Byers Lake and Anchorage with RKZ and fly out of Anchorage on Tuesday. UGH! We have all kinds of planes, trains and automobiles manifests to now scramble with," the scheduling director wrote in an email to the secretary's assistant and others on May 27.
The spouses of the senators also joined the congressional delegation and Interior said Lola Zinke stayed in Alaska because Sen. Murkowski invited her to join the Rolling Thunder ride for Memorial Day.
The documents were provided to the Western Values Project, an accountability group primarily focused on the Interior Department. Interior says they are politically motivated.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY:
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it. That's all I can say. He denies it. By the way, he totally denies it." -- President Trump said in response to the ongoing Roy Moore sexual misconduct accusations.
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