D.C. Repub­li­cans boost pres­sure on Moore, Ala.

With Alabama GOP re­luc­tant to urge Se­nate can­di­date to quit, lead­ers look to Trump for help.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Alan Fram and Kim­berly Chan­dler

Na­tional GOP lead­ers pres­sure Ala. on Moore

Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans tight­ened pres­sure Tues­day on Alabama’s GOP to keep a defi

ant Roy Moore from be­ing elected to the Se­nate next month, with many voic­ing hope that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump could use his clout to re­solve a prob­lem that Repub­li­cans say leaves them with no easy op­tions.

With Alabama Repub­li­cans re­luc­tant to block Moore and en­rage his le­gions of loyal con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers, na­tional GOP lead­ers were turn­ing to Trump as their best chance of some- how turn­ing the tide. Two women by name have said Moore mo­lested them in the 1970s when one was 14 and the other 16 and he was a lo­cal district at­tor­ney, and three oth­ers said he pur­sued ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with them around the same time.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, in all-out war­fare with Moore, said there’d be con­ver­sa­tions about the anti-estab­lish- ment fire­brand af­ter Trump re­turns Tues­day night from Asia. He said he’d al­ready spo­ken about Moore to the pres­i­dent, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and White House chief of staff John Kelly.

“He’s ob­vi­ously not fit to be in the United States Se­nate and we’ve looked at all the op­tions to try to pre­vent that from hap­pen­ing,” said McCon­nell, who Mon­day said he be­lieved Moore’s ac­cusers. “This close to elec­tion, it’s a com­pli­cated mat­ter.” Moore has de­nied abus-

ing the women but has not ruled out dat­ing teenagers at the time, when he was in his early 30s.

Twice re­moved from his post as state Supreme Court chief jus­tice, Moore’s candi- dacy in the Dec. 12 special elec­tion con­fronts Repub- li­cans with two dam­ag­ing

po­ten­tial out­comes. A vic­tory sad­dles GOP sen­a­tors with a col­league ac­cused of abus- ing and ha­rass­ing teenagers, a trou­bling li­a­bil­ity head­ing into next year’s con­gres­sional elec­tions, while an up­set vic­tory by Demo­crat Doug Jones would slice the al­ready nar­row GOP Se­nate ma­jor­ity to an un­wieldy 51-49.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions told Congress he has “no rea­son to doubt” the women. Ses­sions, a for­mer Alabama sen­a­tor and still one of the GOP’s most in­fluen-

tial voices in the state, didn’t rule out a Jus­tice Depart­ment probe of the al­le­ga­tions, telling the House Judi- ciary Com­mit­tee, “We will eval­u­ate ev­ery case as to whether or not it should be in­ves­ti­gated.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan joined the pile of con­gres­sio- nal Repub­li­can say­ing Moore should drop out.

“These al­le­ga­tions are cred­i­ble,” Ryan, R-Wis., told re­porters. “If he cares about the val­ues and peo­ple he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”

Two Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, said they didn’t know what Trump would do, but said the White House shares McCon­nell’s con­cerns about Moore. While few think Trump could per­suade Moore to step aside, sev­eral are hop­ing he can per­suade the Alabama state party to take some ac­tion.

BRYNN AN­DER­SON / AP

For­mer Alabama Chief Jus­tice and U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore (cen­ter) lis­tens as a cam­paign mem­ber talks to him be­fore Moore speaks at the Ves­tavia Hills Pub­lic li­brary on Satur­day in Birm­ing­ham, Ala.

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