A fifth woman accused Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, on Monday of making sexual or romantic advances toward her when she was a teenager, as senior Republicans in Washington called for him to drop out of the race and threatened to expel him from the Senate if he wins.
The new accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, told a news conference in New York that Mr. Moore attacked her when she was 16 and he was a prosecutor in Etowah County, Ala. Ms. Nelson was represented at the news conference by Gloria Allred, a lawyer who has championed victims of sexual harassment.
In a statement she read to the press this afternoon, Nelson said, “I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head onto his crotch,” She added that, during the incident, Moore told her that no one would believe her if she reported the incident.
At the same vent, Nelson, who identified herself as a Trump voter, produced a page from high-school yearbook that she said was signed by Moore. (If this is legitimate, he literally signed the yearbook, “Roy Moore, D.A.,” removing any doubt that if may have been a different person with the same name.)
As for what happens now, the initial response from Republican officials last week was that Moore should end his candidacy “if the allegations are true.” As of today, however, a variety of GOP senators have become less circumspect about the prospect of Moore joining their ranks.
Abandoning the cowardly “if true” posture, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this morning that he believes Moore’s accusers and wants the Alabama Republican to “step aside” before the Dec. 12 special election.
And if he doesn’t? There are people with expertise in Alabama election law who can speak to this with more authority than I can, but as I understand it, there’s not a whole lot state officials can do to invalidate Moore’s election if he receives more votes four weeks from tomorrow. What’s more, as the 2010 case of Illinois’ Roland Burris reminds us, the Senate isn’t in a position to block an elected senator once his or her election is certified.
There is, however, the issue of expulsion: by a two-thirds vote, senators can force a member from the chamber. It’s happened before, but not since the Civil War (some senators were expelled for having supported the Confederacy).
It was therefore of great interest to see Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, say today that if Alabamans elect Moore, the Senate should expel him “because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Whether there are 67 votes in support of expulsion is unclear, but it would certainly increase the pressure on Moore to quit if he knew in advance that he’d never actually serve in the Senate, even if he wins the election.
Update: In case anyone’s curious, it’s my understanding that if Moore wins the election and is then expelled, Alabama’s governor would appoint someone to that seat (again) and a special election would be scheduled (again).