Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he spoke with President Donald Trump from Vietnam about the Roy Moore situation, and will have “further discussions” with him when the President returns.
McConnell said he believes the women who say that Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and while he was in his 30s. One woman said she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her. On Monday, a separate Alabama woman alleged Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, and described her experience at a news conference, represented by attorney Gloria Allred.
“There’s no question that there’s a deep concern here,” McConnell said Tuesday afternoon. “Roy Moore should step aside, the women who’ve come forward are entirely credible.”
Moore responded in a pair of tweets Tuesday afternoon, railing against McConnell and calling the effort to get him to stand down an inside hit job.
“Alabamians will not be fooled by this #InsideHitJob. Mitch McConnell’s days as Majority Leader are coming to an end very soon. The fight has just begun,” Moore tweeted.
In the second tweet, he referenced his previous victories in the Alabama Republican primary and pitched his victory in the December general election as the final blow to McConnell, writing, “3 STRIKES AND YOU’RE OUT, MITCH.”
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, has said that Moore should be expelled if he ends up in the Senate – something that requires a two-thirds majority vote and hasn’t been done in 155 years. Gardner, head of the Senate Republican campaign committee, released a stunning statement, stating clearly that if Moore “refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him.”
Asked if he agrees with Gardner that Moore should be expelled, McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that Moore is “obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate.”
Still, Moore’s name will appear on the Alabama ballot in December. If he is elected, the Senate will have to decide what to do next.
“We’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening,” McConnell added. “Obviously this close to the election, it’s a very complicated matter.”
At the weekly GOP policy lunch in the Capitol – where senators discussed the politically fraught prospect of adding a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate to a massive tax bill – the allegations against Moore and the potential political damage to the party, were also on the agenda, according to Republican senators who attended.
“It would be hard not to,” said Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said senators were given an update on the Alabama race. Lankford, who is deeply religious, declined to say if he would support expelling Moore from the Senate, should he win.
“I don’t even want to get into the what-ifs on that,” Lankford said. “This kind of accusation for anyone, from either party is intolerable. He certainly doesn’t represent the values of the Republican Party.
Sen. John McCain said Moore should never be allowed to be a senator, although he declined to say what specific steps Republicans should take to ensure that doesn’t happen.
“But he should not be a United States senator,” McCain said adamantly and repeatedly. “He can’t be seated. He should not be a seated. That’s what Republican members can do.”
CNN’s Eli Watkins, Ashley Killough and Manu Raju contributed to this story.