New sex assault allegation hits Moore; he calls it false
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is leaving open the possibility that a special counsel could be appointed to look into Clinton Foundation dealings and an Obama-era uranium deal, the Justice Department said Monday in responding to concerns from Republican lawmakers.
In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding an oversight hearing Tuesday, the Justice Department said Sessions had directed senior federal prosecutors to “evaluate certain issues” raised by Republican lawmakers. President Donald Trump has also repeatedly called for investigations of Democrats.
The prosecutors will report to Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and recommend whether any new investigations should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require additional resources and whether it might be necessary to appoint a special counsel to oversee a probe, according to a letter sent to Rep. Robert Goodlatte of Virginia, the Judiciary Committee’s Republican chairman.
The letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd did not say what specific steps might be taken by the Justice Department to address the lawmakers’ concerns, or whether any of the matters Republicans have seized on might already be under investigation by federal authority.
Any appointment of a new special counsel, particularly in response to calls from members of Congress or from Trump himself, is likely to lead to Democratic complaints about an undue political influence on a department that is supposed to function outside of any partisan sway or demand.
Quake kills 430 in Iranian border region rebuilt after war
TEHRAN, Iran — Rescuers dug with their bare hands Monday through the debris of buildings felled by an earthquake that killed more than 430 people in the border region of Iran and Iraq, with nearly all the casualties occurring in an area rebuilt after their ruinous 1980s war.
The magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck Sunday at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as people were going to bed. The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide the two countries.
Bundy son released to halfway house during Las Vegas trial
LAS VEGAS — Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s eldest son has been ordered released to a halfway house during trial stemming from a 2014 armed standoff against government agents in a public lands cattle grazing dispute.
U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Trisha Young said Monday that Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro granted Ryan Bundy’s release ahead of Tuesday’s opening for what is expected to be a four-month proceeding.
Cliven Bundy, son Ammon Bundy and co-defendant Ryan Payne also sought release, but remain in custody.
Ryan Bundy is serving as his own lawyer. He argued he was hampered preparing his case while was in jail.
The four men are accused of enlisting a self-styled militia to defy government authority, but defense attorneys say no shots were fired, no one was hurt and there was no conspiracy.
WASHINGTON — A second woman emerged Monday to accuse Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in the late 1970s, this time in a locked car, further roiling the Alabama Republican’s candidacy for an open Senate seat. Moore strongly denied it, even as his own party’s leaders intensified their efforts to push him out of the race.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a remarkably personal swipe at his party’s candidate for a Senate seat the GOP cannot afford to lose. “I believe the women,” he said, marking an intensified effort by leaders to ditch Moore before a Dec. 12 special election that has swung from an assured GOP victory to one that Democrats could conceivably swipe.
Moore abruptly called a news conference in Gallant, Alabama, after a tearful Beverly Young Nelson’s detailed the new allegations to reporters in New York.
“I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don’t even know the woman,” Moore said.
He signaled he has no intention of ending his candidacy, calling the latest charges a “political maneuver” and launching a fundraising appeal to “Godfearing conservatives” to counter his abandonment by Washington Republicans.
In the latest day of jarring events, McConnell, R-Ky., and Moore essentially declared open war on each other. McConnell said the former judge should quit the race over a series of recent allegations of past improper relationships with teenage girls. No, said Moore, the Kentucky senator is the one who should get out.
Cory Gardner of Colorado, who heads the Senate GOP’s campaign organization, said not only should Moore step aside but if he should win “the Senate should vote to expel him because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative and former state Supreme Court judge, fired back at McConnell on Twitter.
“The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp,” Moore wrote.
Nelson’s news conference came after that exchange and injected a new, sensational accusation in the story.
She said Moore was a regular customer at the restaurant where she worked after school in Gadsden, Alabama.
One night when she was 16, Moore offered to drive her home, she said, but instead parked behind the restaurant and touched her breasts and locked the door to keep her inside. She said he squeezed her neck while trying to push her head toward his crotch and tried to pull her shirt off.
“I thought that he was going to rape me,” she said.
Moore finally stopped and as she got out of the car, he warned that no one would believe her because he was a county prosecutor, Nelson said. She said her neck was “black and blue and purple” the next morning and she immediately quit her job.
Nelson said that shortly before that, days before Christmas, she’d brought her high school yearbook to the restaurant and Moore signed it. A copy of her statement distributed at the news conference included a picture of what she said was his signature and a message saying, “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, ‘Merry Christmas.’”
Nelson said she told her younger sister about the incident two years later, told her mother four years ago and told her husband before they married. She said she and her husband supported Donald Trump for president.
Last Thursday, The Washington Post reported that in 1979 when he was 32, Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with three other teenage girls around the same period. The women made their allegations on the record and the Post cited two dozen other sources.
Moore has called the allegations “completely false and misleading,” but in an interview last week he did not unequivocally rule out dating teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Asked by conservative radio host Sean Hannity if that would have been usual for him, Moore said, “It would have been out of my customary behavior.”
McConnell, speaking Monday at an event in Louisville, Kentucky, said Moore “should step aside” and acknowledged that a write-in effort by another candidate was possible. He said, “We’ll see,” when asked if the Republican alternative could be Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore ousted in a September party primary.
But Strange told reporters late Monday “a write-in candidacy is highly unlikely.”
“I made my case during the election,” Strange said. “So now, it’s really going to be up to the people of our state to sort this out.”
McConnell’s comment pushed him further than he’d gone last Thursday, when he said Moore should exit the race if the allegations were true.
McConnell and Moore have had an openly antagonistic history. Moore was backed during his primary campaign by Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief White House adviser who is openly seeking GOP Senate challengers who will pledge to dump McConnell. A political action committee linked to McConnell spent heavily but unsuccessfully on Strange’s behalf.
Trump, who is traveling in Asia, has told people he wanted to wait to get back to Washington until he weighed in, according to a White House official who would not be named discussing private conversations. Trump is slated to return late Tuesday.
BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, THE LATEST ACCUSER of Alabama Republican Roy Moore, reads her statement at a news conference in New York on Monday Nelson says Moore assaulted her when she was 16 and he offered her a ride home from a restaurant where she worked. Moore says the latest allegations against him are a “witch hunt.”
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