U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that she is “disappointed” by the Republican National Committee’s decision to back embattled Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama just weeks after the organization cut its support for him over sexual misconduct allegations.
“I’m disappointed that the RNC has resumed its support of Roy Moore. I think that’s a mistake,” Collins said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Collins, the senior Republican senator from Maine, last month called on Moore to “step aside” from the Senate race if there was any truth to the accusation that he had disrobed a 14-year-old girl in his house when in his 30s, an allegation first reported by the Washington Post. Soon after another woman stepped forward to accuse Moore of assaulting her when she was 16, an allegation Moore dismissed as “false.”
Collins called Moore’s denials unconvincing.
“I would point out that I did not support Mr. Moore even prior to these allegations of sexual misconduct because I was concerned about his anti-Muslim comments, his anti-LGBT comments, and also, most important of all, he’d been removed twice from the Alabama Supreme Court for failure to follow lawful judicial orders,” Collins said Sunday.
Despite the sexual misconduct allegations and the backlash from national party leaders, most Republicans leaders in Alabama still plan to vote for Moore, according to an Associated Press survey.
And Moore’s lead over his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, has widened since late November, with a recent Change Research poll finding 51 percent of likely voters supporting Moore to 44 percent for Jones. A previous poll had Moore leading 49 percent to 44 percent.
Last week, President Donald Trump endorsed Moore, arguing his vote is needed in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.
Moore is among a number of prominent men in politics, the media and the arts to be hit with sexual misconduct allegations since October, when allegations of sexual harassment and assault first hit Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Democrats U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota both announced their forthcoming resignations from Congress last week after being hit by accusations of sexual harassment.
Both Collins and her colleague U.S. Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, joined a rapidly growing chorus last week that called for Franken’s resignation.
Collins told “Face the Nation” that she is joining a bipartisan group of senators to look at how sexual misconduct allegations involving members of Congress and staff are handled on Capitol Hill.
“I think Republicans care just as much as Democrats about sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. There’s a new awakening in our country that this is pervasive, whether we’re talking about Hollywood or Wall Street or the media or Capitol Hill,” Collins said Sunday.
With rising public awareness of sexual harassment, some Senate Republicans have threatened to vote to expel Moore if he is elected in the Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat vacated by Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions when he was confirmed as U.S. attorney general.
When asked by “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson about the Senate’s options for dealing with Moore, Collins demurred.
“Well, I think that’s the tough question. If the allegations are known prior to the election, which they weren’t in the case of Al Franken, for example, then we have a very tough decision to make about whether it’s our role as senators to overturn the will of the people. Now, I think it’s a different situation if the allegations are not known, or if they occur while the person is sitting in the Senate,” she said.
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