Donald Trump will not campaign for under-fire Republican candidate Roy Moore before a special election on December 12 for a Senate seat, a White House official has said.
Despite public statements in which he raised doubts about the accounts of women who have accused Mr Moore of sexual misconduct, the president will not to travel to Alabama on his behalf, said the source.
Mr Trump had held the door open to campaigning for Mr Moore last week when he all but endorsed his candidacy and attacked his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones
The announcement came as Mr Trump continued to wade into the race over the weekend, taking to Twitter to attack Mr Jones.
The president said electing the Democrat as Alabama's next senator "would be a disaster", warning of damage to his legislative agenda.
"The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY," Mr Trump wrote, referring to Democrat congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2017
He has declined to follow the path of other mainstream Republican leaders who have called on Mr Moore to step aside. Republican legislators are considering expelling him if he wins the seat.
For weeks, accusations that Mr Moore, now 70, sexually molested or assaulted two teenagers, aged 14 and 16 - and tried to date several others - while he was in his 30s have taken centre stage in the heated Alabama race.
Mr Moore denies the allegations of misconduct and says he never dated "under-age" women.
He has made limited public appearances since the allegations surfaced earlier this month.
Mr Jones, speaking to reporters in Birmingham, Alabama, shrugged off Mr Trump's criticisms, said Alabamians are focused on issues such as the economy, education and health care.
"My record speaks for itself ... I think I am very strong on the issues that the people of Alabama care for," he said.
Mr Jones, a former federal prosecutor, said he would be an independent voice in the US Senate, similar to his political mentor, the late senator Howell Heflin, who represented the state for nearly 20 years.
Mr Jones' campaign issued a more biting statement saying, "Roy Moore was unfit for office even before nine Alabama women served as witnesses to all Alabamians of his disturbing conduct."
Mr Trump's comment in the race signalled that the success of his legislative agenda outweighs widespread concerns from national Republicans, many of whom are repulsed at the prospect of seating Mr Moore.
Senior Republicans in Congress, including Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, have called for Mr Moore to leave the race, and the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have pulled their support for his campaign.