Alabama’s Roy Moore fac­ing fire on all fronts

Some top Repub­li­cans sug­gest he’s un­fit even if he sur­vives elec­tion

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tribut­ing: Ken­neth Stick­ney of the Lafayette Ad­ver­tiser; El­iza Collins, Jes­sica Estepa, USA TO­DAY

WASH­ING­TON – If Roy Moore weath­ers the po­lit­i­cal storm and pulls out a win in the spe­cial elec­tion in Alabama next month, he’ll prob­a­bly still face a hos­tile Se­nate that could make his life in Wash­ing­ton dif­fi­cult.

Se­nate Repub­li­cans led by Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McConnell ramped up their calls Mon­day for Moore to drop his bid for the Se­nate seat and said they were con­sid­er­ing launch­ing a write-in cam­paign for an­other Repub­li­can.

Some Repub­li­cans are even sug­gest­ing that if he wins, they will move to kick him out.

“If he re­fuses to with­draw and wins, the Se­nate should vote to ex­pel him be­cause he does not meet the eth­i­cal and moral re­quire­ments of the United States Se­nate,” said Sen. Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo., chair­man of the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee, the party’s Se­nate cam­paign op­er­a­tion.

The up­roar over Moore’s can­di­dacy only in­creased Mon­day when Bev­erly Nel­son said at a news con­fer­ence Mon­day af­ter­noon that Moore, then an as­sis­tant district at­tor­ney, groped and as­saulted her in an at­tempt to have sex

Deb­o­rah Barfield Berry

with her when she was 16.

McConnell and other Repub­li­can se­na­tors had said last week that if the al­le­ga­tions against Moore were true, he should quit the race. McConnell went fur­ther Mon­day morn­ing, say­ing Moore should “step aside” now.

“I be­lieve the women,” he told re­porters at a news con­fer­ence out­side Bran­deis Ma­chin­ery, a heavy-equip­ment plant in Louisville.

Moore has faced a bar­rage of crit­i­cism since a Wash­ing­ton Post story last week re­ported that the Repub­li­can sen­a­to­rial can­di­date was ac­cused of en­gag­ing in ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships with teenagers when he was in his 30s, in­clud­ing one case of sex­ual con­tact.

Moore, a for­mer state Supreme Court jus­tice, has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions and has said he would not back down from his bid for the Se­nate seat. He has threat­ened to sue the news­pa­per.

The elec­tion is Dec. 12. Moore faces Demo­crat Doug Jones in a race that has was con­sid­ered close even be­fore the al­le­ga­tions against Moore ex­ploded.

Moore hit back on McConnell in a tweet Mon­day.

“The per­son who should step aside is @Se­nateMa­jLdr Mitch McConnell,” he wrote. “He has failed con­ser­va­tives and must be re­placed.”

But if Moore makes it to the Se­nate, McConnell and his col­leagues could push him out.

Pear­son Cross, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of Louisiana-Lafayette, said that un­der the Constitution the Se­nate has “to­tal con­trol” over who sits as mem­bers. “It’s based on the will of the body,” he said.

Cross said that his­tor­i­cally the House and Se­nate have blocked se­na­tors par­tic­u­larly dur­ing times of tur­bu­lence, such as dur­ing the Civil War, or for moral is­sues, such as for Mor­mons who were po­lyg­a­mists. The Se­nate also has acted in cases when peo­ple were elected and later found to have com­mit­ted crimes.

“If they don’t want to seat him, they don’t have to,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the U.S. Se­nate His­tor­i­cal Of­fice, a sen­a­tor whose mem­ber­ship in the cham­ber is be­ing con­tested would likely be seated first, then an­other sen­a­tor would raise a chal­lenge. The Se­nate could then de­cide whether to cre­ate an in­ves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee or wait for a state-level in­quiry if there was one.

If the in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds that the mem­ber shouldn’t have been seated, he could be “ex­cluded” from the Se­nate by a sim­ple ma­jor­ity vote, as op­posed to be­ing ex­pelled, which re­quires a twothirds ma­jor­ity, ac­cord­ing to the of­fice.

The Se­nate has six times ex­cluded a mem­ber who had been seated. The last time was in 1926. Fif­teen mem­bers have been ex­pelled from the Se­nate, 14 of which were dur­ing the Civil War era and one of which was in the 18th cen­tury.

Tra­di­tion­ally, Se­nate Repub­li­cans fall in line with their lead­er­ship, and the lead­er­ship is now squarely op­posed to Moore. But Moore has made rail­ing against GOP lead­ers a ma­jor theme in his cam­paign.

McConnell en­dorsed Moore’s op­po­nent, Sen. Luther Strange, in the Repub­li­can pri­mary. Strange had been ap­pointed in Fe­bru­ary to re­place Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, who stepped down to be­come at­tor­ney gen­eral for Pres­i­dent Trump.

The Se­nate Lead­er­ship Fund, a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee al­lied with McConnell, spent mil­lions to back Strange in the pri­mary, which ended with Moore win­ning a Septem­ber runoff.

Even if Moore wins and is al­lowed to serve, it’s clear Moore won’t have many friends in the Se­nate, even among Repub­li­cans. “I did not find his de­nials to be con­vinc­ing and be­lieve that he should with­draw from the Se­nate race in Alabama,” Sen. Su­san Collins of Maine tweeted Mon­day.

Sen. Or­rin Hatch, R-Utah, tweeted, “These are se­ri­ous and dis­turb­ing accusations, and while the de­ci­sion is now in the hands of the peo­ple of Alabama, I be­lieve Luther Strange is an ex­cel­lent al­ter­na­tive.”

Moore al­ready had lost sup­port of some se­na­tors back­ing his bid.

“Based on the al­le­ga­tions against Roy Moore, his re­sponse and what is known, I with­draw sup­port,” Sen. Bill Cas­sidy, R-La., tweeted Satur­day.

There is lit­tle na­tional Repub­li­cans can do to stop Moore from run­ning in Alabama, where his name is al­ready on the bal­lot. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

McConnell said Mon­day that Repub­li­cans were con­sid­er­ing push­ing for a write-in cam­paign. “That’s an op­tion,” he said. “We’re look­ing at whether or not there is some­one who can mount a write-in cam­paign suc­cess­fully.”

As for whether it will be Strange, McConnell said, “We’ll see.”

“If he re­fuses to with­draw and wins, the Se­nate should vote to ex­pel him.” Sen. Cory Gard­ner, R-Colo. Head of the party’s Se­nate cam­paign op­er­a­tion

Repub­li­can Se­nate nom­i­nee Roy Moore has de­nied wrong­do­ing. HAL YEAGER/AP

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