National Republican leaders have pulled their support for Roy Moore, the Alabama GOP Senate candidate, in the wake of allegations claiming he had inappropriate sexual contact with teenage girls.
The Washington Post reported that four women accused Moore of initiating sexual contact with them in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was an assistant district attorney in his early 30s. One of the women, Leigh Corfman, told the newspaper that Moore had sexual contact with her when she was just 14. The age of consent in Alabama is 16.
A total of seven women have come forward so far to accuse Moore of sexually inappropriate behavior.
Moore has denied the allegations, saying in a statement obtained by Fox News that the article was “based on a lie supported by innuendo.”
“It seems that in the political arena, to say that something is not true is simply not good enough. So let me be clear. I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct,” he said.
Still, multiple Republicans have called on Moore to step aside from the special election in December. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee reportedly severed its fundraising ties with Moore.
The White House
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said if the allegations are true, President Trump believes that “Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
“Like most Americans, the president believes we cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life,” Sanders said. “However, the president also believes that if these allegations are true, Judge Moore will do the right thing and step aside.”
But publicly, Trump has unleashed his criticism on Democratic candidate Doug Jones instead of Moore.
“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for our military and our great vets, bad for our 2nd Amendment, and wants to [raise] taxes to the sky. Jones would be a disaster,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 26.
He added, “I endorsed Luther Strange in the Alabama Primary. He shot way up in the polls but it wasn’t enough. Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race. Liberal Jones would be bad!”
Vice President Mike Pence “found the allegations in the story disturbing and believes, if true, this would disqualify anyone from serving in office,” his press secretary, Alyssa Farah, told reporters.
Sen. Mitch McConnell
While speaking to reporters on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he believes the women quoted in the Washington Post’s story. He urged Moore to step aside in light of the allegations.
Previously, McConnell said Moore should step aside if “these allegations are true.”
Sen. Cory Gardner
Cory Gardner, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, said Monday that he believes the women who have alleged Moore’s misconduct. In a statement, he encouraged the Senate to “vote to expel” Moore should he win the election next month.
“He does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate,” Gardner, R-Colo., said.
Sen. Mike Lee
A former backer of Moore, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, pulled his endorsement from Moore after the allegations came to light.
“Having read the detailed description of the incidents, as well as the response from Judge Moore and his campaign, I can no longer endorse his candidacy for the US Senate,” Lee said in a tweet.
He had also requested that Moore’s campaign no longer use his image.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
“I’m horrified and if it’s true, he should step down immediately,” Murkowski told reporters.
She reportedly also urged Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill Jeff Sessions’ seat when he was tapped to become attorney general, to launch a write-in campaign. The deadline to take Moore off the ballot has passed.
Sen. Mike Rounds
“If they are true, then he should seriously think about stepping aside,” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said.
Sen. John Cornyn
“I find it deeply distrusting and troubling. It’s up to the governor and the folks of Alabama to make that decision as far as what the next steps are,” Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said. He later withdrew his endorsement of Moore.
Sen. Tim Scott
“If they’re accurate, he absolutely should [step aside],” Tim Scott, of South Carolina, said.
Sen. Susan Collins
In a tweet, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called for Moore to “withdraw from the Senate race in Alabama.”
Collins wrote that she listened to Moore deny the allegations in a recent radio interview, but “did not find his denials to be convincing.”
Collins’ most recent statement comes after she previously tweeted: “If there is any truth at all to these horrific allegations, Roy Moore should immediately step aside as Senate candidate.”
Sen. Steve Daines
“I am pulling my endorsement and support for Roy Moore for U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.
Sen. John McCain
“The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of,” Arizona Sen. John McCain said.
Sen. Richard Shelby
“It’s a devastating nasty story,” Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby told reporters. “If it’s true, I don’t believe there’d be a place for him in the U.S. Senate.”
Sen. Jeff Flake
Like other Republicans, Flake called on Moore to “step aside” from the election.
“Just to be clear. If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat,” Flake tweeted.
He’s also said that “Republicans to support Roy Moore over Doug Jones is political tribalism at its worst.”
Sen. Luther Strange
Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who lost the special election primary to Roy Moore, called the allegations “disturbing.”
He has not yet said if he’ll reenter the race, but told the Associated Press that he is doing “research.” It is too late to take Moore off the ballot, but Strange has been encouraged to launch a write-in campaign.
Sen. Rob Portman
“I think if what we read is true, and people are on the record so I assume it is, then he should step aside,” Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said.
Sen. Ben Sasse
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., called the Washington Post’s story “heartbreaking.”
The senator also agreed on Twitter with National Review editor Jonah Goldberg who said, “As the father of a 14 year old girl, this ‘What’s the big deal?’ crap enrages me.”
Sen. Ted Cruz
“These are serious and troubling allegations,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who previously endorsed Moore, said in a statement. “If they are true, Judge Moore should immediately withdraw. However, we need to know the truth, and Judge Moore has the right to respond to these accusations.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., officially withdrew his support from the candidate on Saturday.
“Based on the allegations against Roy Moore, his response and what is known, I withdraw support,” he said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch
“I stand with the Majority Leader on this. 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,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, tweeted.
Sen. Pat Toomey
“We’ll probably never know for sure exactly what happened,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
“But … I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham took to Twitter to say Moore should step aside in the Alabama Senate race.
“In light of the most recent allegations and the cumulative effect of others, I believe [Moore] would be doing himself, the state, the GOP, and the country a service by stepping aside,” Graham said. “If he continues this will not end well for Mr. Moore.”
He has also bemoaned Trump’s attempt “to throw a lifeline to” Moore.
Rep. Paul Ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said if the allegations are true, they would disqualify Moore from the special election in December.
“These allegations are disqualifying if true. Anyone who would do this to a child has no place in public office, let alone the United States Senate,” Ryan said in a statement.
Rep. Peter King
“I would say unless he can prove his innocence, the burden is now on him within the next day or so, I believe he has to step down. He owes it to himself, he owes it to the state and and he owes it to the U.S. Senate,” New York Rep. Peter King said.
Rep. Lee Zeldin
In a tweet, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., called for that “creepy Roy Moore dude” to step aside from the campaign.
“It’s about that time for that creepy Roy Moore dude to exit stage left. He should step aside & let someone take his spot on the ballot who doesn’t prey upon young teenage girls as a grown man,” he said.
Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on Twitter that he’s “long opposed” Moore and called on him to step aside from the race as well.
“I’ve long opposed Roy Moore [and] his divisive viewpoints. The actions described make him unfit for office. The GOP must not support him. He should step aside,” Kasich said.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, slammed Moore on Twitter.
“Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman,” the former governor said. “Her account is too serous to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.”
Former Gov. Jeb Bush
Former Republican presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Moore should step down in light of the allegations.
“This is not a question of innocence or guilt like in a criminal proceeding; this is a question of what’s right and what’s wrong. Acknowledging that you’re dating teenagers when you’re 32 years old as assistant state attorney is wrong. It’s just plain wrong,” he told CNBC, adding that he agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said earlier Monday that Moore should “step aside.”
“We need to stand for basic principles, and decency has to be one of those,” Bush added. “In the really poisonous political environment we have right now, one of the rules I think has to apply is that when you attack somebody on the other party, and the other team for doing something wrong, when it happens on your team, you have an obligation I think to speak out as well.”
The president’s daughter had some harsh words for Moore.
“There’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I’ve yet to see a valid explanation, and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts,” Ivanka Trump told the Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.