Former Alabama Supreme Court Judge and current Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore is facing a growing sexual assault scandal thanks to excellent journalism by The Washington Post, which exposed his habit of grooming and dating teens – including those below the legal age of consent. Moore is accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old, among others.
Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally spoke out on the scandal, saying he believes the victim, and that Moore should withdraw from his race.
In response, Moore tweeted, “The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp.”
Here’s the tweet in question:
In the strange, twisted world that men like Roy Moore and Donald Trump live in, molesting children is somehow not as bad as failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act. This should come as no surprise – not only is Moore refusing to step aside, he’s actually using the accusations (backed up by many witnesses, with multiple accusations coming from women with no contact, who did not seek the press or fame) to fundraise.
Needless to say, Moore immediately faced strong backlash for his comments:
The allegations against Moore have split the Republican Party. Despite the huge amount of evidence in favor of Moore’s accusers, many Republicans are still defending him. Most don’t want him to drop out. Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and others have all become apologists for child abuse since the news broke.
However, many Republicans such as Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney have come out strongly against Moore, demanding that he remove himself from consideration for the U.S. Senate.
With opposition from McConnell, another possibility is looming: Should Moore win the special election, he might not be seated in the Senate anyway. It’s legally possible for them to reject him based on the allegations, if the Senate decides to investigate. Well, they would have to seat him – but he could be immediately removed. Here’s more, via The Intercept:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, on behalf of all Republican senators, said that “if these allegations are true, he must step aside.” Some GOP senators, including John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, demanded that Moore leave the race without any conditional.
But what if Moore ignores them – as he clearly plans to do – and beats the Democratic nominee Doug Jones in four weeks? Will Republicans then be helpless, with no option but to look on as Moore joins their caucus and votes with them on their all favored priorities?
Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states that both the House and Senate may “with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.” No specific criteria are named; the Senate can expel a member for anything or nothing, at any time.
And in fact, the Senate has previously expelled 15 members. Fourteen of them were removed for their support of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The 15th, William Blount of Tennessee, was removed from office in 1797 when – as part of an extremely convoluted moneymaking scheme — he encouraged Native Americans and American frontiersmen to attack Spanish Louisiana and Florida in order to force Spain to transfer their territories to the British Empire.
Getting two-thirds of the Senate to vote to remove Moore would not be a difficult task. In fact, it wouldn’t even require a majority of Republicans, thanks to the partisan senate divide. Democratic Party members could be expected to vote unanimously, meaning only a handful of Republicans would be necessary.
In other words, McConnell has the power to remove Moore should he stay in the race as he intends, and then go on to win. Moore does not have the same power.
Featured image via Scott Olson/Getty Images