Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on the party’s nominee for Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore, to withdraw from the race if a new report that he pursued teenage girls in his 30’s is confirmed.
Alabama Sen. Luther Strange (R) called allegations that GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney “very, very disturbing” in a statement to reporters.
Strange told BuzzFeed News reporter Emma Loop that he had “just seen” the report Thursday afternoon, and will soon make a longer statement on the allegations.
“It’s a very, very disturbing report. That’s all I have to say. I’ve just seen it and I’ll have more to say,” the Alabama Republican said.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside.”
Other Republican senators also reacted with alarm to the report by the Washington Post. It quoted several women saying that Moore initiated contact with them when as teenagers, including one woman who said she had a sexual encounter with him when she was 14 and he was 32.
“The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling,” added Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was unequivocal. “I’m horrified, and if this is true he needs to step down immediately,” she told reporters.
“It’s a nasty story, I don’t know anything about it,” added Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Asked if Moore should withdraw, Shelby said, “Let’s see how the story runs.”
Pressed further on the issue, Shelby said, “I supported Sen. Strange, you all know that.” He was referring to Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in a Republican primary.
The report quotes Leigh Corfman, who Moore reportedly started the sexual relationship with her when he was an assistant district attorney in 1979.
According to the Post, Moore approached Corfman outside a courtroom in Etowah County. At the time, Corfman was sitting with her mother. Moore got her phone number and then days later took her to his house in the woods and kissed her. During a second visit, according to Corfman, Moore took her clothes off as well as his own and ran his hand over her body and her hand over his underwear.
Corfman recounted her story in a consistent fashion during six interviews, according to the Post.
The Post report also said three other women it interviewed said Moore pursued them while he was in his 30s and they were teenagers. But those women say he did not try to initiate sexual contact with them.
Moore issued a statement to the Post denying the accusations.
“These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign,” Moore said in the statement.
Moore, a former controversial state Supreme Court judge, is running in the special election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat. His opponent is former U.S. attorney Doug Jones, a Democrat. Moore has been heavily favored to win.
The election is on Dec. 12.
Washington Republicans including McConnell and the NRSC overwhelmingly backed Strange over Moore in the primary.
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