GOP leaders call for Alabama senate candidate to step aside if allegations are true.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans say Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in Alabama for a Senate seat, should step aside if an explosive Washington Post report that accuses him of engaging in sexual conduct with underage women is true.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a statement.
GOP Sen. Susan Collins tweeted, “If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as a Senate candidate.”
And National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Cory Gardner said in a statement, “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Texas’ two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, have both endorsed Moore.
Cornyn, the second-ranking GOP senator, called the allegations “deeply disturbing and troubling,” according to the Texas Tribune.
“I think it’s up to the governor and the folks in Alabama to make that decision as far as what the next step is,” Cornyn said.
Cruz declined to answer questions as he passed reporters, the Tribune reported.
The Washington Post alleged Thursday that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32. Three other women also told The Post that Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s.
Moore approached Leigh Corfman while she was sitting outside a wooden bench with her mother, and offered to watch Corfman while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing, the Post reported. He was an assistant district attorney at the time.
“He said, ‘Oh, you don’t want her to go in there and hear all that. I’ll stay out here with her,’ ” Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, told The Post. “I thought, how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.”
Moore asked Corfman for her number, called her a few days later, and then he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden. He then drove her 30 minutes away to the woods, called her pretty and kissed her, the Post reports. During a second visit, Moore took off her shirt and pants and he removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she told the Post, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
“I wanted it over with — I wanted out,” she told The Post. “Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get it over.”
Corfman then asked Moore to take her home, which he did, she recounted to the paper.
In a statement, Moore campaign chair Bill Armistead blasted the Post report.
“Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today’s Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake. National liberal organizations know their chosen candidate Doug Jones is in a death spiral, and this is their last ditch Hail Mary,” Armistead said.
Moore told The Post: “These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”
Moore, who was twice ousted as Alabama’s chief justice, beat GOP establishment favorite Sen. Luther Strange in a Republican primary.
He has campaigned on a platform of placing Christianity at the center of public life. In 2003, Moore was removed as state Supreme Court chief justice for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument from the state supreme court building. He was re-elected to the job, and then ousted again in 2016, when he refused to follow the US Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
The special election in Alabama is next month. The winner will fill the seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.