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Photo: Susan Walsh / AP

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore to "step aside" on Monday and said of Moore's accusers, "I believe the women," per the AP. Four women have accused Moore of sexual advances when they were between 14 and 17 and he was in his 30s.

The backdrop: Most Republican senators who have spoken out about the accusations against Mooore have said he should drop out — if the allegations are true. McConnell added no such qualifier. This is setting up as a proxy war, with Steve Bannon (who has called for McConnell to be removed as speaker) on a mission to discredit Moore's accusers and McConnell intent on forcing Moore from the race.

Updates:

Sen. Susan Collins followed McConnell's lead:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

And Moore responded by calling on McConnell to step down.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Elon Musk: Autopilot feature wasn't enabled in fatal Texas crash

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday that "data logs recovered so far" show the car's Autopilot feature was not enabled — and it did not have access to "full self-driving mode" — in the deadly crash in Texas involving the company's electric vehicle.

Background: Local investigators said they believed the car was operating without anyone in the driver's seat. At the time of death, one man was in the passenger seat, while another was in the rear seat, KPRC 2 reports.