There has been more fallout on Capitol Hill over the accusations by several women that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, made unwanted sexual contact with them when they were teenagers.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said at a news conference on Tuesday that Moore “should step aside” before next month’s special election, joining the top Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several other GOP lawmakers in calling on Moore to quit the race.
Ryan told reporters, “No. 1, these allegations are credible. No. 2, if he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”
Five women have publicly accused Moore of making unwanted sexual advances. Moore has denied the accusations and refused to remove himself from the campaign for the special election scheduled for Dec. 12.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who vacated the seat that Moore is a candidate for, was asked about the accusations at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday and said, “I have no reason to doubt these young women.”
Republicans fear the effect Moore’s candidacy may have on other GOP candidates in next year’s midterm elections but have few options available if Moore remains in the Alabama race.
Sessions has been floated as the most likely person to be able to pull off a write-in candidacy since it is too late to remove Moore from the ballot. It’s not at all clear that Sessions would be interested in trying to go back to his old job.
The head of the Republicans’ Senate campaign committee, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, has called for expelling Moore if he wins.
But there is no modern precedent for such a move. It would first require an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, and it’s unclear whether the panel would have any jurisdiction over something that happened before a senator was elected.
Republicans acknowledge there may be no legal or constitutional basis to deny Moore a seat in the Senate if he wins next month. President Trump has yet to weigh in on the controversy. He is to arrive back in Washington late Tuesday night from a trip through East Asia.