WASHINGTON — Before he was accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct and assault, Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore drew wide national attention for a series of controversial comments, including arguing that Muslims should not serve in Congress. President Trump endorsed Moore on Monday, but White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the next day that doesn’t mean the commander in chief supports Moore’s view on Islam.
Yahoo News asked Sanders during her daily briefing if Trump agrees with Moore that Muslims should be disqualified from serving in Congress. Sanders initially said she hasn’t discussed Moore’s history of controversial views with the president.
“I haven’t asked him about past statements from Roy Moore,” Sanders said of Trump.
Moore, who was a prominent judge in Alabama, outlined his view that Muslims should not serve in Congress in a 2006 column for the conservative website WorldNetDaily after Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., became the first Muslim elected to the Congress. Moore argued “no Muslim elected to Congress or the White House can swear to uphold the United States Constitution and still be a Muslim.”
Trump has had his own series of controversial comments about Muslims. He has also pushed for a ban on immigration from several predominantly Muslim nations.
Several of the sexual misconduct allegations that have been levied against Moore in recent weeks involved teen girls. Trump and Sanders both have said the president backed Moore in spite of this because Trump believes Moore would support the White House’s agenda in the Senate.
But at the briefing on Tuesday, Sanders said that while Trump is confident Moore backs his policies, the president “doesn’t necessarily” support all of Moore’s positions.
“I’m saying he supports the president’s agenda. The president doesn’t necessarily support everything of Moore’s agenda,” said Sanders.
Other Republicans including Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, have explicitly criticized Moore’s position on Muslims. On Tuesday, Flake even donated to the campaign of Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
Along with his comments about Islam, Moore has also suggested homosexuality should be illegal. Polls currently show Moore with a narrow lead over Jones in the high-profile Dec. 12 race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s former Senate seat.
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