Senate

GOP senators: Moore should step aside if allegations true

GOP senators on Thursday called for the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama to step down if a story containing sexual allegations against him is true.

Roy Moore is accused of having an inappropriate sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl in 1979, when he was 32.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) all made similar statements, saying if the claims are true then Moore doesn't belong in the Senate.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the allegations were "disqualifying."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that "if these allegations are true, he must step aside."

"If there's any truth to those stories, he ought to step aside," Flake told reporters.

Collins told reporters she was "horrified" to hear of the accusations, and also called on Moore to step down. Perdue called the accusations "devastating."

Cornyn called the allegations "deeply disturbing."

"I think it's up to the governor and the folks of Alabama to make that decision as far as what the next step is," Cornyn told reporters.

"The allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore are deeply troubling," said Gardner, who is the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a statement. "If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election."

"If that's true he doesn't belong in the Senate," said Shelby, the senior Alabama senator.

"If what we read is true, and people are on the record so I assume it is, that he should step aside," said Portman.

McCain was the first senator to call for Moore to step down based solely on the allegations against him.

"The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying," McCain said in a statement. "He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of."

The Senate Republican backlash comes after The Washington Post reported that Moore took part in an inappropriate sexual encounter with an underage girl when he was in his early thirties.

Leigh Corfman, now 53, said Moore made sexual advances on her when she was 14 years old.

The newspaper also found three other women who said that Moore had approached them around the same time, when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.

Moore's campaign have disputed the report, calling it "garbage" that defines fake news.

"Judge Roy Moore has endured the most outlandish attacks on any candidate in the modern political arena, but this story in today's Washington Post alleging sexual impropriety takes the cake," Bill Armistead, Moore's campaign chairman, said in a statement.

Moore is running against Democrat Doug Jones to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions's former Senate seat.

- Jordain Carney, Rebecca Kheel, Ellen Mitchell and Nathaniel Weixel contributed.

- Updated 2:47 p.m.

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