Tom Coburn says Roy Moore is be­ing tried by the press

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - Staff Writer jwingerter@ok­la­homan.com BY JUSTIN WINGERTER

A for­mer U.S. se­na­tor from Ok­la­homa and en­dorser of con­tro­ver­sial Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore says he’s con­cerned the Alabama Repub­li­can is be­ing un­fairly tried in the court of pub­lic opinion.

Moore, 70, stands ac­cused of dat­ing or hav­ing sex­ual con­tact with five teenage girls when he was a pros­e­cu­tor in his 30s, in­clud­ing two girls who were 14 and 15 years old at the time. There­tired judge, who has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, faces Demo­crat Doug Jones in a Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion.

For­mer Sen. Tom Coburn, the only Ok­la­homan to for­mally en­dorse Moore, said in an email Satur­day that if the al­le­ga­tions are true, “he should drop out,” and if they are false, they are “pretty ex­pe­di­ent slan­der for our po­lit­i­cal process.”

On Tues­day, Coburn wrote back to say, “I am re­ally trou­bled by this.”

“He may be guilty of what peo­ple are claim­ing,” Coburn said. “But what if he is not? Seems this is rule of rulers in­stead of rule of law. I thought you were to get a fair trial of your peers in­stead of trial in the press. What has hap­pened to us?”

Sen. James Lank­ford, R-Ok­la­homa City, sug­gested Tues­day that Moore should con­sider end­ing his cam­paign.

“Sen. Lank­ford be­lieves that al­le­ga­tions of ha­rass­ment, ex­ploita­tion, and in­ap­pro­pri­ate re­la­tion­ships with mi­nors must be taken very se­ri­ously,” said his spokesman, DJ Jor­dan. “Lank­ford be­lieves that if Judge Moore can­not de­fend him­self against th­ese ac­cu­sa­tions, then he should end his cam­paign.”

Last week, Lank­ford and Sen. Jim In­hofe said Moore should drop out, if guilty. In­hofe’s po­si­tion has not changed, a spokes­woman said Tues­day. The Tulsa Repub­li­can told re­porters Fri­day that the ac­cu­sa­tions had “par­ti­san rings” to them but Moore, if guilty, should step aside.

“If he’s guilty at all, we will fig­ure out some way or should fig­ure out some way to make sure he is not our nom­i­nee,” In­hofe said. “I think ev­ery­body’s in agree­ment. I heard a state­ment that was made by Richard Shelby — he is the se­nior se­na­tor from Alabama and he’s a Repub­li­can — and he said, as I’m say­ing, that if there’s any truth to that, we’ve got to get rid of that guy.”

Last week, many of Moore’s fel­low Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate took a wait-and-see ap­proach to the ac­cu­sa­tions against him, say­ing he should step aside only if those ac­cu­sa­tions are true. This week, some have changed their state­ments fol­low­ing a press con­fer­ence from a fifth ac­cuser and fur­ther sug­ges­tions Moore dated teenagers in the late 1970s and early 1980s while a pros­e­cu­tor.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., said Mon­day that Moore should resign from the Se­nate race. On Tues­day, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said the same. Sen. Cory Gard­ner, who heads the Se­nate Repub­li­can cam­paign arm, said se­na­tors should ex­pel Moore if he wins the elec­tion.

[AP PHOTO]

For­mer Alabama Chief Jus­tice and U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore speaks Satur­day at an event at the Ves­tavia Hills Pub­lic li­brary in Birm­ing­ham, Ala.

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