Pres­sure mounts on Moore to quit

Repub­li­cans call on Alabama can­di­date to drop out of Se­nate race

Tulsa World - - Datelines - By Alan Fram and Kim­berly Chan­dler

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 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 some­how 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 when they were teenagers around the same time.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, in all­out war­fare with Moore, said there'd be con­ver­sa­tions about the anti-es­tab­lish­ment 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 said Mon­day that he be­lieves Moore's ac­cusers. “This close to elec­tion, it's a com­pli­cated mat­ter.”

Main­tain­ing his po­lit­i­cal brand as an un­re­pen­tant out­sider, 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 Con­fer­ence later Tues­day in Jack­son, Alabama.

Twice re­moved from his post as state Supreme Court chief jus­tice, Moore's can­di­dacy in the Dec. 12 spe­cial elec­tion con­fronts Repub­li­cans with two dam­ag­ing po­ten­tial out­comes. A vic­tory would sad­dle 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. 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.”

Moore

The na­tional Repub­li­can Party ended a fundrais­ing ar­range­ment with Moore's cam­paign, Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion doc­u­ments show. And House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., joined the pile of con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans say­ing Moore should drop out, say­ing, “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 they 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.

It's al­ready too late to re­move his name from the bal­lot. That leaves the state party with lim­ited op­tions.

If Moore is elected, top Se­nate Repub­li­cans al­ready are threat­en­ing to vote to ex­pel him. That risks leav­ing the seat un­filled for a pe­riod of time. com com/subscribe. tul­saworld.

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