Within an hour of the Washington Post dropping its bombshell report that alleges Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a 14 year old when he was in his 30s, lawmakers within his own party were calling on him to step down from the race.
As of Thursday afternoon, at least five Senators called on Moore to step aside, and that number was rapidly growing. Those calling on Moore to leave the race included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had backed Moore’s primary opponent, Senator Luther Strange, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardener, who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to request for comment and had not issued a public statement.
“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
Gardner echoed these sentiments, calling the allegations “deeply troubling.” “If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election,” he said.
Sens. Susan Collins and Jeff Flake took to Twitter to voice their disapproval and urge him to step aside if the allegations are true. John McCain called the allegations “deeply disturbing and disqualifying,” calling on Moore to “immediately step aside.”
The Post interviewed with four women who said Moore had pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties, including an encounter with Leigh Corfman, who said that when she was 14 Moore had taken off her shirt and pants, undressed himself, and touched her over her bra and underwear before she asked him to take her home. None of the four women said Moore ever forced them to do anything sexual.
Moore denied the allegations in a written statement to the Post, calling them “completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign.”
Correction: The original version of this story misstated in one instance who was accused of sexually pursuing underage girls. It is Roy Moore, not Luther Strange.