Key Senators:  If Roy Moore Wins, Expulsion No Slam Dunk

Printed from:

It would be tough to expel Roy Moore if he wins the U.S. Senate special election in Alabama on Tuesday, a prominent liberal-leaning Republican said.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine who often resists Republican initiatives, addressed Moore’s situation during an appearance Sunday on Face the Nation on CBS.

Collins is no fan of Moore – she noted that she opposed Moore even before allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against him last month. But Face the Nation host John Dickinson pointed out that several women made allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump before the election last year, and that many voters knew about them and voted for Trump anyway.

“Why wouldn’t that same standard apply to Roy Moore? The voters of Alabama know exactly what has been alleged. If he gets elected, what business does the Senate have telling the voters they’re wrong?” Dickinson said.

Collins seemed to agree, distinguishing between Moore’s situation and that of U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota), who announced this past week that he plans to resign in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment against him.

“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,” Collins said. “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.”

A prominent Democrat who appeared after Collins on the same show also suggested that expelling Moore from the Senate wouldn’t be easy.

“I agree with Senator Collins. It’s a complicated issue,” said U.S Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

Durbin alluded to Franken, who didn’t want to leave the Senate but was pressured to announce his resignation by other Democrats.

“There was no political calculation in here. It was just a painful moment when we made a decision, moved forward on the Democratic side. I hope the Republicans will face that reality as well,” Durbin said.

Moore, 70, has been accused by a woman who says he initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32, and by another woman who says Moore attacked her in a car behind a restaurant when she was 15 and he was in his 30s. Other women have reported creepy, though not illegal, behavior by Moore when they were teen-agers.

Moore has denied all allegations, and has said he doesn’t know his accusers.

In the days after the accusations were made public, many Republicans called on Moore to drop out of the race, and some said that if elected he should not be seated in the Senate. His critics have backtracked on that point, acknowledging that the federal constitution requires that Moore be seated if he wins.

But many senators have called for an Ethics Committee investigation that could lead to Moore’s expulsion. The remarks by Collins and Durbin suggest that may be a difficult path.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), who is also a critic of Moore, said Sunday he would withhold judgment about expelling Moore until he saw the results of an Ethics Committee investigation.

Appearing on Meet the Press on NBC, Scott said that he finds so far that “the allegations are significantly stronger than the denial,” but he wouldn’t tip his hand on expulsion.

“I’m going to let my decision be made by the breadth of information and evidence that I’m able to review during that process,” Scott said.

While many Republicans have distanced themselves from Moore, President Trump has endorsed him, and the Republican National Committee is supporting him.

Moore is leading his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones, in recent polls by a few percentage points, but the race is close enough that analysts say it could go either way.