UPDATE: RNC cuts fundraising ties to Roy Moore

The Republican National Committee has severed its fundraising ties to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Posted: Nov. 14, 2017 10:32 AM
Updated: Nov. 14, 2017 5:34 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Roy Moore and the special election in Alabama for the U.S. Senate (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

The Republican National Committee has severed its fundraising ties to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

A Federal Election Commission filing late Tuesday shows that the national party is no longer part of the effort to raise money for Moore, the embattled GOP nominee facing allegations of molesting two teenagers when he was in his 30s.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee cut ties to Moore late last week after The Washington Post first reported on Moore and the women.

Washington Republicans are tightening pressure on Alabama's GOP to keep Moore from being elected to the Senate next month, with many voicing hope that President Donald Trump could use his clout to resolve a problem that Republicans say leaves them with no easy options.

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3:30 p.m.

The Senate's top Republican says the party still hopes to retain an Alabama Senate seat at the center of a scandal involving GOP nominee Roy Moore.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday: "We would hope to save the seat and that might require a write-in" campaign. McConnell says he expects to discuss the issue with President Donald Trump once he returns to Washington.

The national party has turned against Moore, a Christian conservative accused of molesting teenage girls during the late 1970s when he was in his 30s. Trump has remained quiet while on an extended trip to Asia.

McConnell says with the Dec. 12 election four weeks away, "it's a very complicated matter" to try to retain the seat. Moore can't be knocked off the ballot under Alabama law.

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3 p.m.

Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones says he's tired of people blaming his campaign for reports of sexual misconduct by his Republican opponent, Roy Moore.

Jones addressed the scandal Tuesday after a campaign stop in Birmingham.

Asked whether his campaign was in touch with Moore's alleged victims, Jones said, "I'm tired of people blaming this campaign."

He says he has not heard from the women who claim misconduct and has "not reached out to them." He said anything suggesting otherwise is "absolutely absurd and consistent with a pattern of absurd comments coming from both Roy Moore and his campaign."

Jones largely downplayed the allegations of misconduct against Moore during a brief press conference.

He said he'd continue to focus on issues important to Alabama voters and "let that play out over there."

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2:10 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has spoken to both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in recent days about the Alabama Senate race and the allegations against GOP candidate Roy Moore.

That's the word from two Washington Republicans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the conversations.

Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, have called on Moore to step aside, but he has dug in. The GOP is relying heaving on Trump, hoping he can have some sway with Alabama Republicans. The president was returning from his Asia trip on Tuesday.

Both Washington Republicans say White House officials share the GOP concerns about Moore, who faces allegations of sexual misconduct, and holding onto the Senate seat.
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11:35 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has "no reason to doubt" women who have accused Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct when they were minors.

Sessions made the comment under questioning Tuesday by Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Moore is running for the seat Sessions held until his confirmation earlier this year. But Sessions declined to say whether he thinks Moore should drop out of the race.

Women have accused Moore of groping them when they were teenagers decades ago.

Sessions says that would normally be a case for state prosecutors. But he also says the Justice Department will "evaluate every case as to whether it would be investigated."

Some Republicans have floated the idea of abandoning Moore and rallying around a write-in candidate, perhaps Sessions, who remains popular in Alabama.

PREVIOUS UPDATE
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday joined a growing chorus of Washington Republicans calling upon Roy Moore to drop out of his embattled race for the U.S. Senate in the wake of allegations by a second woman that the conservative Alabaman groped her when she was a teenager in the late 1970s.

"These allegations are credible," Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters on Tuesday. "If he cares about the values and people he claims to care about then he should step aside."

Moore is showing no sign of quitting, even as his chances to win the open Senate seat appear to be in peril.

"I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false," Moore said Monday at an abruptly called news conference in Gallant, Alabama, after the latest allegations were made. "I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman."

The former state Supreme Court judge and outspoken Christian conservative has dug in, rejecting all calls in Washington from GOP senators for him to quit. Senate Republicans face limited options in trying to force out Moore whose name remains on the ballot for the Dec. 12 special election against Democrat Doug Jones.

A defiant Moore spoke after a tearful Beverly Young Nelson, now 56, detailed new allegations to reporters in an emotional appearance in New York.

One night when she was 16, Moore offered to drive her home from her after-school job at a restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama, she said. Moore, a regular customer, instead parked behind the restaurant and locked the door to keep her inside, squeezing her neck while trying to push her head toward his crotch and trying to pull her shirt off, Nelson said.

"I thought that he was going to rape me," she said.

Moore stopped and as she left the car he warned no one would believe her because he was a county prosecutor, Nelson said. She said her neck was "black and blue and purple" the next morning.

In Alabama, Jones unveiled a new campaign ad in which state voters, including Republicans, say they can't vote for Moore.

Even before Nelson's news conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a remarkably personal swipe at Moore, based on last week's Washington Post reports of other incidents involving Moore and teen-age girls decades ago.

"I believe the women," said McConnell, R-Ky., marking an intensified effort by leaders to ditch Moore before the election that has swung from an assured GOP victory to one that Democrats could conceivably win.

Moore fired back at McConnell on Twitter.

"The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp," Moore wrote.

He also signaled he has no intention of ending his candidacy, writing in a fundraising appeal, "I'd be honored to have you in my corner with me while I slug it out with the forces of evil trying to keep me out of Washington."

The exchange between McConnell and Moore underscored the civil war between establishment Republicans worried that candidates like Moore could cost them their Senate majority and hard-right elements who say McConnell is not conservative enough.

Moore has been backed by Steven Bannon, President Donald Trump's former chief White House adviser who is openly seeking GOP Senate challengers who will pledge to dump McConnell. A political committee linked to McConnell spent huge sums unsuccessfully trying to defeat Moore in the GOP's September primary, but Moore defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Luther Strange.

Republicans have discussed having another Republican like Strange stage a write-in candidacy, but Strange told reporters Monday "a write-in candidacy is highly unlikely."

"I made my case during the election," Strange said.

Cory Gardner of Colorado, who heads the Senate GOP's campaign organization, said if Moore is elected, senators should expel him "because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements" of the Senate.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Moore "should not be a United States senator, no matter what it takes." Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who's not seeking re-election after criticizing Trump, said he'd "vote for the Democrat" if he had to choose between Moore and Democrat Jones.

Last week, The Washington Post reported that in 1979 when he was 32, Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with three other teenage girls around the same period. The women made their allegations on the record and the Post cited two dozen other sources.

Moore denied last week molesting the 14-year-old but didn't flatly deny he'd dated teenagers, saying in an interview with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, "It would have been out of my customary behavior."

Nelson said that before the alleged incident that Moore signed her yearbook. A copy of her statement at the news conference included a picture of what she said was his signature and a message saying, "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, 'Merry Christmas.'"

The tumult comes with Republicans holding a scant 52-48 Senate majority as the GOP rushes to push a massive tax cut through Congress by Christmas.

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