Fourth Republican Senator withdraws support from Roy Moore

The White House, if not Trump, is also slowing backing away.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore speaks at the Vestavia Hills Public library, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (CREDIT: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) appeared on Meet The Press and became the latest Republican Senator to withdraw support from Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama. Moore has been under scrutiny since the Washington Post reported last week that he allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl and pursued sexual relationships with other teen girls as a prosecutor in his 30s.

Toomey said “the accusations are more reliable than the denial.”

Moore’s accusers are backed up by 30 corroborating sources interviewed by the Washington Post. After publication, one of Moore’s former colleagues in the prosecutor’s office, Teresa Jones, said it was “common knowledge” that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teen girls in his 30s. Jones said Moore was known to hang out at high school football games and the mall which everyone thought was “weird.”

Moore has blasted the Washington Post report as “fake news” but his denials have been far from definitive. In a radio interview with Sean Hannity, he did not deny pursuing teen girls as a 30-year-old, only saying it would have been “out of my customary behavior” and that he did not “generally” remember doing so.

The other Republican Senators who have withdrawn their support from Moore since his appearance on Hannity are Mike Lee (R-UT), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Many other Republicans are calling for Moore to step aside if the allegations are proven true, without defining what would constitute enough proof.

President Trump has given far more deference to Moore, saying “[W]e cannot allow a mere allegation, in this case one from many years ago, to destroy a person’s life.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin demurred on the subject Sunday, telling CNN he is “not an expert on this issue” but that it should be investigated. But Marc Short, Trump’s Director of Legislative Affairs, tried to create some distance between Moore and the White House on Sunday morning. “There’s no Senate seat more important than the issue of child pedophilia,” Short said.

This piece has been updated to add comments from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.