When The Washington Post published a bombshell story alleging that former Alabama chief justice and current Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore made inappropriate advances toward teenage girls in the 1970s, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell initially said that Moore should withdraw if the allegations were true. That claim was echoed by a number of other Republicans. Left unsaid was what it would take to prove Moore’s accusers were telling the truth.
Well, apparently something came to light over the weekend that convinced McConnell the women were telling the truth. On Monday afternoon, McConnell changed course and called for Moore to pull out. He made that call at a press conference about the GOP’s tax reform package. Watch here, via WLKY-TV in Louisville.
McConnell said that he now believed Moore should “step aside,” and revealed that his colleagues were seriously considering lending their support to a write-in campaign. When asked if he believed the accusers, McConnell replied without hesitation, “I believe the women, yes.”
Believe it or not, this was only the second-loudest bombshell that went off in relation to Moore’s increasingly troubled Senate campaign. How do you top the leader of the Senate Republicans effectively throwing the candidate of his own party in a crimson-red state overboard? Quite easily, as it turns out. A member of the Senate Republican leadership went even further than McConnell by calling for Moore to be expelled from the Senate should he prevail in next month’s special election.
Over the weekend, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the body that works to get more Republicans elected to the Senate, abruptly ended its joint fundraising effort with Moore–a critical move, since in recent weeks the Democrats have ramped up their fundraising efforts for Moore’s challenger, Doug Jones. In hindsight, it was apparent that another shoe was about to drop in Washington.
That shoe dropped just hours after McConnell’s press conference. The NRSC’s chairman, Cory Gardner of Colorado–the sixth-ranking Republican in the chamber–announced that he not only believes Moore should get out of the race, but should be kicked out of the Senate posthaste should he defeat Jones.
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) November 13, 2017
Wow. Quite a change from Thursday, when Gardner was one of many Republicans who merely called for Moore to get out if The Post was telling the truth.
What changed? Well, there are a number of possible explanations. It could have been Moore’s dumpster fire of an interview with Sean Hannity on Friday, in which he conceded that he may have sexually pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s. Or it may have been the fact that his response to these allegations has, for the most part, to say that they’re just “FAKE NEWS” peddled by libruls and planted by a Yankee newspaper. Or it may have been news that a fifth woman came forward to say that Moore made a pass at her when she was a teenager.
What is beyond dispute is that Gardner has issued an unprecedented ultimatum to Moore–drop out, or face expulsion. That call caused heads to explode across Trumpland.
WTH? @CoryGardner IS CALLING FOR THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE OF ALABAMA TO BE OVERTHROWN if @MooreSenate is elected.
Call his office now. 202-224-5941 pic.twitter.com/nIt9W55jmE
— Women for Trump (@WomenforTrump) November 13, 2017
This guy is another paid hack of the Deep, deep swamp. Tell your fat cat contributers they don't own Alabama.
— Sherry (@Sherry40614670) November 13, 2017
@CoryGardner Why do you think it is up to you and not the people of Alabama. Do you think you are smarter than them?? United States Senate
— Angela-AmericansAreDreamersTOO (@Ike19777) November 13, 2017
Judge Roy Moore is more thsn fit to serve. Who is not fit to serve our constitutional republic are spineless, feckless, inept, incompetent, impotent, RINO, Republicrats like you who will never condemn a Democrat but condemns Roy Moore at the drop of a hat.
— Bennie Harris (@BFHarris7729) November 14, 2017
@CoryGardner … "ethical & moral standards of Congress …" You're one to talk; you're nothing but another Chamber-financied globalist puppet.
— Alison for USA (@Alison4Trump) November 14, 2017
So a significant segment of Trumpland is so desperate to keep this seat out of Democratic hands that they’re willing to kneecap a Republican who actually stands up for basic decency? Lovely.
Lest you think that this is an act of opportunism, Gardner was one of the few Republicans who turned his back on Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tapes and refused to recant. He even went as far as to say he would cast a write-in vote for Mike Pence if Trump didn’t drop out.
If Donald Trump wishes to defeat Hillary Clinton, he should do the only thing that will allow us to do so – step aside. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/hadKP4gIrr
— Cory Gardner (@CoryGardner) October 8, 2016
Gardner did this knowing he was likely throwing his vote away; under Colorado election law, you have to vote for a candidate who has stated his intention to mount a write-in campaign for your vote to count.
So what if Moore wins, and Gardner moves to have him expelled? Well, expulsion takes a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate. It is a power that has only been used 15 times in this country’s history. The last expulsions occurred in 1861 and 1862, when 14 Southern Senators were expelled for supporting the Confederacy early in the Civil War.
It has only been seriously considered twice since World War II. On both occasions, the Senator resigned rather than face all-but-certain expulsion. In 1982, Harrison Williams resigned after being convicted in the Abscam scandal. In 1995, Bob Packwood resigned in the face of evidence that he had sexually harassed women for years–a scenario very similar to what Moore faces.
The chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee at the time was Mitch McConnell. Four years later, during debate on Bill Clinton’s impeachment, McConnell said that he and his fellow Republicans knew Packwood’s departure made it more likely than not that the Democrats would win the ensuing special election. However, McConnell said, they believed they faced a stark choice–“retain the Senate seat or retain our honor.”
McConnell and the other Senate Republicans would do well to heed those words from 18 years ago. After all, Moore seems to be under the delusion that screaming “FAKE NEWS!” is a defense to such serious allegations. You would think that an experienced attorney and judge would know that doesn’t fly.
If Moore isn’t willing to get out of that delusion, he should do us all a favor and get out of the race. And failing that, he should be expelled if he does manage to defeat Jones. If there is ever a case for such a measure, it is when a man offers only smears and deflection, and not contrition, to answer charges that he breached every standard of decency that is known.
(featured image courtesy Gage Skidmore, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)