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McConnell says final decision on Moore awaits Trump

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Schumer: Fight for Senate is 'neck and neck' Nikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump MORE (R-Ky.) stopped short of calling for a vote to expel Roy Moore from the Senate should he win a special election in Alabama next month and suggested a final decision for the party could depend on President Trump.

McConnell said no final decision had been made and it would await further discussions with Trump.

McConnell told reporters that Trump called him from Vietnam last week to discuss what to do about Moore, who faces multiple sexual accusations — including from one women who said they had a sexual encounter when he was 32 and she was 14. 

"We had a chance to discuss this issue. I talked to Gen. Kelly about it on Saturday, I talked to the vice president about it yesterday. There's no question there's a deep concern here," McConnell said referring to White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and Vice President Pence.

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McConnell reiterated his call on Moore to withdraw from the race and voiced concern about keeping the seat, currently held by Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeTrump: 'I could pick a woman,' and she could be accused of misconduct Ann Coulter believes Kushner wrote anonymous op-ed bashing Trump Mulvaney: Trump regularly asks why Roy Moore lost MORE (R-Ala.), in Republican control. 

"We've looked at all the options," he said of his discussions with White House officials and colleagues. "This close to the election it's a very complicated matter.

"Once the president and his team get back, we'll have further discussions about it," he said.  

A day earlier, McConnell told reporters in Louisville, Ky., that he believed the accounts of five women who have accused Moore of predatory behavior and called for the candidate to step aside.

Asked whether he believed women who have made accusations about Trump, McConnell declined to answer and said it was off-topic.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue Democrats must end mob rule GOP senators praise Haley as 'powerful' and 'unafraid' MORE (Colo.) on Monday called for Moore to be expelled from the Senate should he defeat Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 contest.

Gardner said Moore does not “meet the ethical and moral requirements” of the United States Senate.

But McConnell wouldn't go as far as Gardner on Tuesday

Other Republicans are leery about committing to an expulsion vote before investigating the allegations more carefully.

“Right now we’ve got to get through the election and see if that’s something we even have to deal with,” said Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisDems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight GOP fractured over filling Supreme Court vacancies in 2020 MORE (R-N.C.).

He said that prior to any expulsion vote, “we have to examine the facts as they exist.”

“We owe that to the integrity of the process,” Tillis said.

GOP lawmakers feel more comfortable calling on Moore to pull out of the race and allow another candidate to run as a write-in.

The latest was Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerFive takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Heller complains about media in Senate debate: 'You see how they treat Kanye West' Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (R-Nev.), who on Tuesday said “Moore should do what is best for the conservatives of Alabama and step aside.”

Some Democrats are wondering if Republicans would actually go through with an expulsion vote.

“It would be a remarkable step for Republicans to take,” said Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Feinstein would 'absolutely' reopen Kavanaugh investigation if Dems win Senate MORE (D-Calif.).