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- Senate Republicans are in a panic about what to do if Roy Moore, an accused sexual abuser, should win the special election next month.
- The NRSC has called for his immediate expulsion, a tactic not used since the Civil War.
- Moore is pressing on, even as more women come forward with abuse allegations.
WASHINGTON – Roy Moore has created a problem for Republicans, now unsure of whether he would be fit to serve in the Senate. And if he wins the Alabama special election next month, whether it would be necessary to expel him using a process not seen for more than a century.
Five women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct, which includes pursuit of a minor and sexual assault. The claims have imperiled Moore’s candidacy to the point that his Democratic challenger is now in position to win the race in a state long-thought to be a Republican stronghold.
Things became worse for Moore on Monday, when after another woman accused him of sexual misconduct, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, Sen. Cory Gardner, demanded that Moore step down, or be removed from legislature if he were to win.
But the rest of the Republicans on Capitol Hill were more skittish than Gardner about potentially ousting Moore should he win next month.
“I took the time to listen to Mr. Moore’s radio interview and I also read his statement,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins. “I did not find them convincing and I believe that he should withdraw as a candidate. If he does not, we will have to face that issue if he is elected. I think it’s premature to talk about expulsion of someone who hasn’t even been elected.”
Collins told reporters the way by which the Senate would remove someone like Moore would fall under the ethics committee and whether he is fit for office, instead of being expelled on a constitutional basis like what was seen with Confederate supporters in the Civil War.
“But it seems to me that we’re getting way ahead of ourselves,” Collins added. “What I would like to see is for Mr. Moore to immediately step aside.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas reportedly told a Texas Tribune reporter on Monday, “As it stands, I can’t urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious, persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true.”
“When the head of your own party’s senatorial committee is advocating you be expelled before you get elected, I just don’t think you have a very bright Senate career ahead of you,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters. “To expel somebody, don’t you have to listen to both sides of the story? So I don’t know. I hope he steps aside. I don’t see a good outcome for Mr. Moore.”
Other Republicans deferred any agreement with Gardner until after the election is settled, such as Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who said, “That is a hypothetical and then we’ll have to get to that after the election if he wins.”
“There hasn’t been an election yet,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who withdrew his endorsement of Moore earlier on Monday. “So it’s hard to expel a senator who wins an election that hasn’t been held.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, who would be serving alongside Moore in Alabama, said, “He’s got to make his own decision.”
“But I’ll tell you what, it’s drip by drip, cut by cut,” Shelby said. “It doesn’t look good.”
Definitively breaking with Gardner was Sen. Orrin Hatch, who when asked by Business Insider said, “No, I don’t agree with that but it depends on what the facts are, not just what any one person thinks.
“I’m very concerned about these problems,” Hatch added. “But I think we’ve got to handle them with deliberation and care.”
Despite the mounting accusations of sexual abuse and calls to leave the race, Moore is pressing forward and rebuking those who believe the several women over him.