Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, “I believe the women,” and called on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to “step aside.”
McConnell made his remarks at a news conference in Kentucky. Moore has been accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old in 1979 when he was 32. Three other women have accused Moore of inappropriate contact when they were teens.
McConnell had initially said last week Moore should end his candidacy “if” the allegations were true. McConnell had supported the incumbent senator, Luther Strange, in the primary. He said a write-in campaign for Strange is now “an option.”
Moore has come under increasing pressure from GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill to step aside prior to the Dec. 12 special election in Alabama. He has refused, saying the accusations were “false and untrue,” and threatening to sue the Washington Post, which first reported the story on Nov. 9.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee has pulled out of a joint fund raising agreement with Moore, and the list of prominent Republicans opposing Moore’s candidacy has steadily grown.
Republican leaders in Alabama, however, have largely defended Moore. Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler said there is “just nothing immoral or illegal” about the allegations and compared them to biblical marriages. The comments drew criticism from some evangelical leaders.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has called the allegations against Moore “deeply disturbing,” but said Monday, “I will withhold judgment until we get more of the facts,” according to WSFA in Alabama.
Monday afternoon, attorney Gloria Allred will hold a press conference in New York with a new accuser, who says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a minor.
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