WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared in his home state today that he believes those accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, prompting the former judge to send out a fundraising pitch accusing the GOP leader of a “dirty plot to destroy me.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday on the allegations of four women, all named on the record, who say that Moore asked them out and kissed them when they were teenagers. One woman who was 14 at the time, which is below the age of consent for any sexual contact in Alabama (second-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor), said Moore took her to a rural home, undressed down to his underwear, touched her through her bra and underwear, and moved her hand toward his genitals before she asked that he take her home. Leigh Corfman said she voted for Donald Trump.
After the story hit the headlines, Teresa Jones, deputy district attorney for Etowah County, Ala., from 1982 until 1985, told CNN it was “common knowledge” that her former colleague Moore “dated high school girls, everyone we knew thought it was weird.”
“We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall … but you really wouldn’t say anything to someone like that,” Jones said.
Attorney Gloria Allred reportedly planned to come forward with a fifth accuser this afternoon “who alleges that Roy Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a minor in Alabama.”
McConnell said after the news broke last week that Moore should withdraw from the race if the allegations are true.
Pressed about Moore at a presser in Louisville today, McConnell said, “I think he should step aside.”
And the Senate leader confirmed, “I believe the women, yes.”
— Nick Storm (@NStorm_Politics) November 13, 2017
Moore fired back on Twitter that McConnell is the one who should step aside. “He has failed conservatives and must be replaced,” Moore said.
In a fundraising email, Moore said that “according to sources, establishment Republicans are colluding with the Obama-Clinton Machine behind-the-scenes in a desperate effort to sabotage my campaign and keep me out of Washington.”
“I’ve been abandoned by Washington’s establishment Republicans with just four weeks left before Election Day,” he added.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its fundraising ties with Moore. He also lost the endorsements of Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Steve Danies (R-Mont.). “Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the US Senate,” Lee tweeted.
White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short told NBC on Sunday that he believes “the notion of innocent defenseless children being molested is one of the most painful thoughts a parent could have, and I think there’s a special place in hell for those who actually perpetrate these crimes.”
“And I think Roy Moore has to do more explaining than he has done so far,” Short said. “But I think we here in Washington have to be careful as well on this. Roy Moore is somebody who graduated from West Point. He served our country in Vietnam. He’s been elected multiple times statewide in Alabama. The people in Alabama know Roy Moore better than we do here in D.C. And I think we have to be very cautious.”
Short noted that President Trump supported Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the primary. After Strange lost to Moore, Trump deleted his tweets supportive of the incumbent.
“There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia… but having said that, he has not been proven guilty. And we have to afford him the chance to defend himself,” Short said.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told CBS on Sunday that the allegations against Moore “are very, very strong” and “the denial was not as strong as the allegations.”
“I think, if the allegations are true, there’s no doubt that he should step aside, and not for the party, but for the American people,” Scott said. “We have to find a way to restore trust and confidence in our elected officials, in our government. And this goes in the wrong direction… There’s no doubt that the case is compelling. The judge and the jury in this case will be the people of Alabama, the voters of Alabama.”