Collins: Moore's denials unconvincing, should step down
© Camille Fine

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Maine) is calling on Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore to step aside, saying his denials of inappropriate sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl were unconvincing.

"I have now read Mr. Moore’s statement and listened to his radio interview in which he denies the charges. I did not find his denials to be convincing and believe that he should withdraw from the Senate race in Alabama," Collins said in a statement on Monday.

Collins's remarks are the latest sign of growing pressure from establishment Republicans for Moore to withdraw from the Alabama special election following a bombshell report claiming he pursued relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s. The youngest woman quoted says she was 14 at the time and that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her.

ADVERTISEMENT
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash House passes bipartisan bill to boost business investment MORE (R-Ky.) stepped up his rhetoric on Monday, saying he believes the women in The Washington Post story and that Moore should withdraw.

"I think he should step aside," McConnell said during a tax reform press conference in Louisville, Ky., when asked about the calls from his Senate colleagues for Moore to leave the race.

But the demands for Moore to step down appear to be having little public impact on the conservative candidate, who fired back at McConnell on Monday.

"The person who should step aside is Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced," Moore said in a tweet.

The Washington Post's story last week detailed an account from Leigh Corfman, now 53, who said she had a sexual encounter with Moore in 1979, when she was 14 years old and he was 32.

The report also included accounts from three other women who said Moore attempted to court them around that time, when they were between 16 and 18 years old.

Moore has denied wrongdoing and threatened to sue the Post, arguing the story is politically motivated and aimed at damaging him ahead of the December special election.

But Republicans are increasingly breaking with him after he said during an interview on Sean Hannity's radio show that he may have dated girls in their late teens at that time in his life.

Moore added that he did not “remember anything like that" and maintained that there was no inappropriate sexual behavior.

In addition to Collins, Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE (R-Utah) said in a tweet that he supported McConnell's remarks. 

"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 StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeRoby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism Once a Trump critic, Ala. rep faces runoff with his support Crowley surprise tops huge night for left MORE is an excellent alternative," Hatch said in a tweet.

Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) currently holds the seat up for grabs in the Dec. 12 special election after Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHomeland Security advisory council members resign over family separations: report Once a Trump critic, Ala. rep faces runoff with his support Ryan: 'The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally' MORE was confirmed for attorney general. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones for the right to serve out the remainder of Sessions's term.