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

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight 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 HatchTrump gambles in push for drug import proposal Biden's role in Anita Hill hearings defended by witness not allowed to testify 'Congress' worst tax idea ever'? Hardly. 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 StrangeDon't import prescription drugs Roy Moore 'seriously considering' another Senate bid GOP leaders dead set against Roy Moore in Alabama 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 SessionsJeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general House Democrats leave empty chair for McGahn at hearing MSNBC host: Barr 'the most dangerous person' who works for Trump MORE was confirmed for attorney general. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones for the right to serve out the remainder of Sessions's term.