GOP brass tell Moore to exit race

Fifth woman says he made sexual advances on her as teen


Photographs by AP/RICHARD DREW

Beverly Young Nelson (left) and attorney Gloria Allred hold up Nelson’s high school yearbook, signed by Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, during a news conference Monday in New York. Nelson accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old.

WASHINGTON -- A fifth woman accused Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, on Monday of making sexual or romantic advances toward her when she was a teenager, as senior Republicans in Washington called for him to drop out of the race and threatened to expel him from the Senate if he wins.

The new accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, said at a news conference in New York that Moore attacked her when she was 16 and he was a prosecutor in Etowah County, Ala. Nelson was represented at the news conference by Gloria Allred, a New York lawyer who has championed victims of sexual harassment.

"I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch," Nelson said in a statement she issued at the news conference. She said Moore warned her that "no one will believe you" if she told anyone about the encounter in his car.

Hours earlier, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said Monday that Moore "should step aside" and that he believes the women who have accused Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers.

"I believe the women, yes," McConnell said at a news conference in Louisville, Ky.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., agreed with McConnell. "He should withdraw from the race," Boozman said through a spokesman.

Arkansas' U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton's office declined to comment on Moore's status.

Although it is too late to remove Moore's name from the ballot before the Dec. 12 special election in Alabama, McConnell said he is exploring the option of a write-in campaign by Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore defeated in the primary, or another Republican.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who expressed solidarity with McConnell's rejection of Moore, wrote on Twitter that Strange would be "an excellent alternative."

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, speaking in his role as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said if Moore wins in the special election, he should be expelled from the Senate, "because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate."

Moore, a judge who was twice removed from the state's high court, first for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from the Supreme Court grounds, then for refusing to accept same-sex marriage, responded defiantly. He showed no sign of leaving the race.

In an afternoon statement, Moore's campaign described Allred as "a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle." The statement, issued before Allred's news conference in New York, denied again "any sexual misconduct with anyone" by Moore.

Republicans have been up in arms over the accusations, published last week in The Washington Post, that Moore pursued sexual or romantic relationships with teenagers when he was in his 30s. The reports have upended a race in a state that has not elected a Democratic senator in 25 years.

The Post reported that Leigh Corfman alleged that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. Moore has denied the allegations and has vowed to continue his campaign.

Moore showed no signs Monday that he was preparing to bow out of the race. He wrote on social media that McConnell is the one "who should step aside" and that he has "failed conservatives."

In a fundraising appeal, Moore reached out to his supporters with the subject line: "Mitch McConnell's plot to destroy me."

"Apparently Mitch McConnell and the establishment GOP would rather elect a radical pro-abortion Democrat than a conservative Christian," he wrote.

And Moore's wife, Kayla Moore, lashed out in a Facebook post Monday, complaining about "a witch hunt" in Alabama and claiming that "we are gathering evidence of money being paid to people who would come forward."

With McConnell now firmly against his election, Moore and his candidacy promise to deepen the divide between Republican leaders in Congress and the populist wing of the party that is standing by the Alabamian. Another Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, also called for Moore to drop out of the race Monday.

Republican officials spent much of the weekend trying to determine what, if anything, they could do to halt Moore without simply surrendering the seat. If Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee, wins, it would narrow the Republican advantage in the Senate to a single seat.

But if Moore stays in and goes on to win, it could leave Senate Republicans with the difficult question of whether to stop him from being seated, or seating him and immediately moving to expel him from the chamber.

One idea being discussed under this scenario, brought up by two different White House officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, would be for Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama to immediately appoint Attorney General Jeff Sessions to what had been his seat when it becomes vacant again.

Information for this article was contributed by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times; by Sean Sullivan, Elise Viebeck, Dino Grandoni and John Wagner of The Washington Post; and by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Vestavia Hil...

A Section on 11/14/2017

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