GOP ramps up pres­sure on Roy Moore

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - National - By Alan Fram and Kim­berly Chan­dler

As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans tight­ened pres­sure Tues­day on Alabama’s GOP to keep a de­fi­ant Roy Moore from be­ing elected to the Senate next month, with many voic­ing hope that Pres­i­dent Don­aldTrump could use his clout to re­solve a prob­lem that Repub­li­cans say leaves them with no easy options.

With Alabama Repub­li­cans re­luc­tant to block Mr. Moore and en­rage his le­gions of loyal con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers, na­tional GOP lead­ers were turn­ing to Mr. Trump as their best chance of some­how turn­ing the tide. Two women by name have said Mr. 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 Mr. Moore, said there would be con­ver­sa­tions about the anti-estab­lish­ment fire­brand after Mr. Trump re­turns Tues­day night from Asia. He said he’d al­ready spo­ken about Mr. 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 Mr. McCon­nell, who Mon­day said he be­lieved Mr. Moore’s ac­cusers. “This close to elec­tion, it’s a com­pli­cated mat­ter.”

Main­tain­ing his po­lit­i­cal brand as an un­re­pen­tant out­sider, Mr. Moore again de­nied abus­ing the women in an email that re­minded vot­ers of their loy­alty to him: “He’s the same man you’ve al­ways known him to be.” It added, “On to vic­tory!” and said he would ad­dress the God Save Amer­ica Con­fer­ence­later Tues­day in Jack­son, Ala.

Twice re­moved from his post as state Supreme Court chief Jus­tice, Mr. Moore’s can­di­dacy in the Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion con­fronts Repub­li­cans with two dam­ag­ing po­ten­tial out­comes. A vic­tory sad­dles GOP sen­a­tors with a col­league ac­cused of abus­ing 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. Mr. Ses­sions, a for­mer Alabama sen­a­tor and still one of the GOP’s most in­flu­en­tial voices in the state, didn’t rule out a Jus­tice Depart­ment probe of the al­le­ga­tions, telling the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, “We will eval­u­ate ev­ery case as to whether or not it should be in­ves­ti­gated.”

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