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

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats search for 51st net neutrality vote Overnight Tech: States sue FCC over net neutrality repeal | Senate Dems reach 50 votes on measure to override repeal | Dems press Apple on phone slowdowns, kids' health | New Android malware found Overnight Regulation: Dems claim 50 votes in Senate to block net neutrality repeal | Consumer bureau takes first step to revising payday lending rule | Trump wants to loosen rules on bank loans | Pentagon, FDA to speed up military drug approvals 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.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit 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 HatchKoch groups: Don't renew expired tax breaks in government funding bill Hatch tweets link to 'invisible' glasses after getting spotted removing pair that wasn't there DHS giving ‘active defense’ cyber tools to private sector, secretary says 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 StrangeDems search for winning playbook Stephen Bannon steps down from Breitbart Scott joins Armed Services Committee 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 SessionsSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants DOJ wades into archdiocese fight for ads on DC buses Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector MORE was confirmed for attorney general. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones for the right to serve out the remainder of Sessions's term.