What the president did not foresee was that the friction would reach inside his immediate family. He vented his annoyance when his daughter Ivanka castigated Mr. Moore by saying there was “a special place in hell for people who prey on children,” according to three staff members who heard his comments.
“Do you believe this?” Mr. Trump asked several aides in the Oval Office. Mr. Moore’s Democratic opponent in the Alabama race, Doug Jones, quickly turned her comments into a campaign ad.
But something deeper has been consuming Mr. Trump. He sees the calls for Mr. Moore to step aside as a version of the response to the now-famous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia, and the flood of groping accusations against him that followed soon after. He suggested to a senator earlier this year that it was not authentic, and repeated that claim to an adviser more recently. (In the hours after it was revealed in October 2016, Mr. Trump acknowledged that the voice was his, and he apologized.)
The Senate leader has told fellow Republicans in private that Mr. Moore’s nomination has endangered the party’s hold on the Senate, according to people who have spoken with him — his starkest acknowledgment so far that the political environment has turned sharply against his party since Mr. Trump’s election. Mr. McConnell has also reiterated his intention to move against Mr. Moore if he is elected, though Mr. McConnell has made clear that he thinks that the candidate is unlikely to win.
Otherwise loyal Senate Republicans have started putting some distance between themselves and the president, a breach that could grow wider in the event of expulsion proceedings.
“As much as people would like to assume that, as Louis XIV said, ‘I am the state,’ there is more than one person who represents the Republican Party, and the preponderance of the party has dissociated itself from Moore,” said Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.