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McConnell, Graham back off calls for Moore to drop out

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dialed back previous statements he has made about Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore — who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including one who was 14 at the time of the alleged event— saying he'll let Alabama voters decide Moore's fate.

Flashback: McConnell has previously said he believes Moore's accusers and that Moore should drop out of the race. He also said Moore would "immediately" face an ethics investigation if he wins. But on ABC's This Week, the Majority Leader said the Senate Ethics Committee will decide how to go forward.

The big picture: The most recent Alabama polls indicate that Moore could still win, and President Trump has given him a de facto endorsement.

Sen. Lindsey Graham also retreated from past comments, saying, "We can't stop [Moore] from being seated" on CBS's Face the Nation.

  • "I think an ethics investigation would be a smart thing to do. And we'll see what the Ethics Committee decides as to whether they look at behavior before he came into the senate."
  • "Does that matter? If they do, what did they find? We'll see."
  • "If there was an investigation and all six members of the committee said they believe he was a child molester, that would be a problem."
  • Flashback: Graham previously said, "In light of the most recent allegations and the cumulative effect of others, I believe Roy Moore would be doing himself, the state, the GOP, and the country a service by stepping aside ... If he continues this will not end well for Mr. Moore."

More from McConnell's interview:

  • On a possible government shutdown: It's a "ridiculous idea" for Democrats to allow a government shutdown over DACA, which is a "non-emergency" issue: "The president has given us until March to address the issue of undocumented children."
  • On Mueller's Russia probe and reports that the president is reaching out to senators to curtail the investigation: Trump has "not said anything to me that I think is inappropriate."
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