Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said on Sunday that she does not believe Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s denials of the sexual allegations against him and hopes the state’s voters do not send him to Washington.
“I did not find his denials to be convincing at all,” Collins said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Washington Post published a report earlier this month based on interviews with more than 30 people that said Moore pursued relationships with teenagers while he was in his 30s. One woman alleged she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her. Alabama’s legal age of consent, then and now, is 16.
Moore has continued to deny the allegations and he says he will not drop out of the race.
Collins noted she was against Moore before the “terrible allegations” came out against him, citing his conduct as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, as well as his anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments. But she declined to say whether the Senate should move to expel Moore if he wins the December 12 election.
“These allegations are extremely disturbing, but under the Constitution, the test on whether or not you seat someone is whether they satisfy the age and residency requirement,” Collins said. “We would have to seat him, but I hope we don’t get there. … I hope that the voters of Alabama choose not to elect him.”
White House on Moore
President Donald Trump has not remarked publicly on the allegations against Moore. He initially supported appointed Republican Sen. Luther Strange in the election, but endorsed Moore after he won the primary.
White House legislative director Marc Short, speaking Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” said the White House is “uncomfortable” with Moore’s explanations so far, but said Trump is leaving the matter up to the voters of Alabama.
“We have serious concerns about the allegations that have been made,” Short said. “The people of Alabama know best what to do.”
Asked if Trump believed the women accusing Moore, Short said, “If he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that.
“But he’s also concerned that these accusations are 38 years old,” Short said.
Although Trump has yet to make comments on the matter, he took to Twitter on Thursday to slam Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken about allegations that he forcibly kissed a woman and groped her while she slept.
Franken has apologized for his behavior and said he welcomed an ethics probe into his conduct.
The unfolding situation has also drawn attention to Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women.
Collins, in her interview Sunday, said part of the reason she opposed Trump’s bid for the presidency was because of allegations about his treatment of women.
“I did not support President Trump,” Collins said. “He was not my candidate for President, and part of the reason why were allegations about how he treated women.”
Collins said she made her decision on Trump before the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape came out last October, in which he bragged about being able to grope women because of his “star” status.