Roy Moore faces deepening allegations, dwindling allies - Axios
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Roy Moore faces deepening allegations, dwindling allies

Photo: Brynn Anderson / AP

A fifth woman came forward Monday with claims of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore, and calls for Moore to withdraw from next month's special election in Alabama are growing louder.

Here's our roundup of all the latest news:

The accusations

The 5th accuser

Beverly Young-Nelson alleged at a press conference alongside attorney Gloria Allred Monday that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress. Through tears, Young-Nelson claimed that Moore, then-District Attorney of Etowah County and a regular at the restaurant, attacked her one night roughly 40 years ago.

"Mr. Moore reached over and began groping me, putting his hands on my breasts. I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over me and locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off, while yelling at him to stop, but instead of stopping he began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head into his crotch."

Go deeper: More from her statement

The original accusations

Four women accused Moore of sexual misconduct in a story published Thursday in the Washington Post.

  • Leigh Corfman, who was 14, says she met Moore (then 32) at the local courthouse and he later took her to his house on two occasions, the second time undressing her and touching her inappropriately, as well as directing her hand to touch him over his underwear.
  • Three other women told WashPost that Moore made advances toward them when they were 16, 17, and 18 years old. Moore was in his 30s and asked them all on dates, allegedly kissing at least two of them.

Local knowledge

  • "It was common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls. Everyone we knew thought it was weird," former deputy District Attorney Theresa Jones, who used to work with Moore, told CNN. "We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall."
  • Over a dozen sources in Alabama, including lawyers, police officers and a "major political figure," told the New Yorker's Charles Bethea that they had heard Moore was banned from the Gadsden Mall for bothering teenage girls.

The reaction

Republican repudiation

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell called on Moore to "step aside": "I believe the women."
  • Sen. Susan Collins: "I did not find his denials to be convincing and believe that he should withdraw."
  • Sen. Jeff Flake: "If the choice is between Roy Moore and a Democrat, I would run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat."

Go deeper: Our full roundup of GOP reaction

Abandoning endorsers

Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz followed a handful of Senate colleagues in withdrawing their endorsements of Moore, leaving Sen. Rand Paul as his only endorser in the Senate. Full coverage here.

Cabinet fallout

A HUD spokesman provided Axios with this statement in response to questions about Ben Carson's past support for Moore: "The Secretary believes any man that assaults any woman is unfit for public office."

Carson was the only member of President Trump's cabinet to voice support for Moore during the Alabama Republican primary. Trump endorsed Luther Strange, Moore's opponent.

White House reaction

President Trump has been silent on the issue over the past few days while on his Asia trip, but members of his administration addressed the controversy on the Sunday shows:

  • Kellyanne Conway told ABC's Martha Raddatz that Moore's "conduct as described should disqualify" him — if true.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to CNN's Jake Tapper: "People should investigate this issue and get the facts. It appears there's a significant issue here that needs to be addressed"
  • Legislative Director Marc Short to NBC's Chuck Todd: "No Senate seat is more important than the issue of child pedophilia, but, having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself."

Moore's defenders

Steve Bannon sent two top Breitbart staffers to Alabama. Their mission: to discredit the Washington Post's reporting on Moore's alleged sexual misconduct with teenagers.

Go deeper:

The options to block him

Option 1: Moore withdraws

Legally, parties and candidates in Alabama have until 76 days before an election to withdraw a nomination, so it's too late for Moore's name to be replaced on the ballot. But a spokesman told NPR that the Alabama Republican Party can withdraw his nomination, meaning he wouldn't be declared the winner even if he received the most votes.

Go deeper: Full legal breakdown

Option 2: The Senate removes him

  • The Constitution also allows both houses of Congress to expel a member with a two-thirds vote. That means McConnell would have to get 19 of his own members on board to get rid of a Republican senator.
  • The big picture: No senator has been expelled since the Civil War, with 14 out of 15 prior expulsions having been for support of the Confederacy.

Option 3: Write-in campaign

Several prominent Republicans are lobbying for Luther Strange (who lost in the primary against Moore) or Jeff Sessions (who resigned the seat to become Attorney General) to mount write-in bids. They've both indicated that's unlikely to happen.

Option 4: Democrat Doug Jones wins

Polls are now showing a tight race, despite Trump having won Alabama by 28%.

How we got here

Who is Roy Moore?

Moore is one of the most controversial and conservative politicians in America, known for his unbending stances on social issues. He had twice lost his position as the Chief Justice of Alabama's Supreme Court — once by removal, once by resignation — after his refusal to back down on federal directives on cases relating to religion and sexuality.

In his own words

  • On the separation of church and state: "The Church's role should be separated from the state's role. That is the definition of separation of church and state. But separation of church and state was never meant to separate God and government."
  • On homosexuality: "Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes." Moore then compared homosexuality to bestiality — and, when asked if homosexuality was the same as bestiality, he responded, "It is a moral precept upon which this country was founded."
  • On the September 11 attacks: "You know, we've suffered a lot in this country. Maybe, just maybe, because we've distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land."

The primary

Moore, with Bannon's backing, defeated Strange — endorsed by Trump and McConnell — 57% to 43% in a runoff for the Republican nomination in September's election. Trump visited Alabama to rally support for Strange, but Alabama Republicans were unmoved.

What Moore is saying

Moore appeared with his wife Monday and gave a statement, which included a denial of the most recent accusers claims: "I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman. I don't know anything about her. I don't even know where the restaurant is or was."


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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo: Carolyn Kaster / AP

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Why it matters: Sessions used the Sutherland Springs shooting as evidence of a need to review the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), as the shooter was able to buy a gun despite having been convicted of domestic assault. The Air Force said it failed to enter his information into the federal database.

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Josh Edelson / AP

Ride-hail company Lyft is raising up to $500 million in additional funding, according to a share authorization document filed yesterday in Delaware. This comes one month after Lyft announced a $1 billion infusion led by CapitalG, an investment arm of Google parent Alphabet. A company spokesman stresses that the $500 million is not yet closed, but adds: "Increasing the potential for this round will allow us to further accelerate our commitment to serving passengers and drivers."

Details: The new investment would be an extension of the CapitalG-led round, at the same share price of $39.75. That means the $10 billion pre-money valuation remains static, but the post-money could now value Lyft at $11.5 billion.

Below is the Delaware document, which was provided to Axios by Lagniappe Labs (creator of the Prime Unicorn Index)


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Two more women say Franken groped them

Sen. Al Franken. Photo: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx

Two women told the Huffington Post that Sen. Al Franken "touched their butts" in unrelated incidents. Four women have now accused Franken of unwanted contact.

Why it matters: Senate leadership have called for an Ethics Committee investigation into the Minnesota senator, which Franken himself has said he will cooperate with.

  • One woman said Franken groped her during a photo at an event hosted by the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus in 2007: "People are saying that this is a right-wing conspiracy...It's not. I'm a liberal person...I voted for him after this happened."
  • The second woman said Franken "cupped her butt" in 2008 at a Democratic fundraiser: "My immediate reaction was disgust...but my secondary reaction was disappointment. I was excited to be there and to meet him. And so to have this happen really deflated me."
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ICE agents at a home in Atlanta, during a targeted enforcement operation. Photo: ICE via AP

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Why it matters: The announcement of the program, later named "Visa Lifecycle Vetting," spurred backlash from civil liberty groups and immigrants. ProPublica notes that, taken in conjunction with Trump's calls for "extreme vetting" and his campaign proposal for a Muslim ban, there is concern it could be discriminatory toward Muslim visa holders. Acting deputy association director for information management at ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Alysa Erichs, said the goal is to have "automated notifications about any visa holders' social media activity that could 'ping us as a potential alert.'"

  • But, but, but: According to Alvaro Bedoya, the executive director of Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, ICE is "building a dangerously broad tool that could be used to justify excluding, or deporting, almost anyone."
  • A group of engineers, computer scientists, and other academics wrote to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke of their "grave concerns" about the program, saying it would likely be "inaccurate and biased."
  • Carissa Cutrell, an ICE spokeswoman, told ProPublica the "request for information...was simply that - an opportunity to gather information...to determine the best way forward."
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Kevin Moloney / Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire investor who funded ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, is seeking to pause the sales process of the now-defunct website, arguing that he was unfairly excluded from making a bid, according to a bankruptcy court filing obtained by BuzzFeed.

Why it matters: The buyer of Gawker.com (the rest of Gawker Media's properties were acquired by Univision last year) will be able to do with its contents as they please, including deleting specific articles. There are still ongoing legal actions over a few articles in the archive. Though Thiel never admitted as much, it was long rumored that his decision to help Hogan was fueled by unflattering coverage of him and his business activities over the years, including a 2007 story about the fact that he is gay.

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A man exits the Uber offices in Austin, Texas. Photo: Eric Gay / AP

Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut are planning investigations into Uber's recently announced 2016 breach that left 57 million customers' and drivers' data vulnerable to criminals, and the FTC might launch a probe as well, according to Recode.

Why it matters: Most states (48) have some form of a law requiring companies to reveal data breaches to consumers, but Uber did not immediately disclose the details to consumers and reportedly tried to cover up the hack.

The FTC may also launch a probe into Uber, Recode reports, citing two sources who say Uber has already briefed the agency. The FTC said it was looking into the matter.

  • The FTC just penalized Uber in August for other privacy and security practices and had asked Uber to maintain all records related to privacy and security for investigators. This apparent cover-up could throw a wrench in those conclusions issued in August.
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the FTC to take "swift enforcement action and impose significant penalties" on Uber, and Rep. Frank Pallone is calling for a Congressional hearing on the matter.

Global blowback: Authorities in Australia and the Philippines said they would also be investigating, and the UK's data protection regulator brought up potential penalties for Uber, per Reuters.

Bottom line: The news is not good for Uber on a global scale. It could face penalties and fines in addition to paying the steep legal price associated with suits after a year filled with other headaches related to security, privacy, and its culture.

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The Trump Soho hotel. Photo: Seth Wenig / AP

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Why it matters: Per the Times, the hotel has "struggled to attract guests" and had to close its main restaurant in April due to what the restaurant's lawyer called a "decline in business since the election." The Trump Org. faced several lawsuits over building the hotel, per the Times, one of which alleged it "was backed by felons and financing from Russia." Russian-born businessman Felix Sater, who has been in the news following the election for having pushed for a Trump Tower in Moscow, was involved in the deal.

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Photo: United Nations Command via AP.

A video just released by the United Nations shows the North Korean soldier who defected to the South on November 13th making his getaway in a green jeep, running towards the border separating Panmunjom, North Korea from the South, and then collapsing on the South Korean side.

Why it matters: The event amounts to a violation of the armistice, since he was shot five times in his successful effort to defect from the North Korean regime, South Korea says. He was ultimately rescued by South Korean soldiers. Pyongyang has yet to say anything about the defection but the UN Command says it has requested a meeting to discuss the apparent armistice violations.

The scene, per the AP's Foster Klug: "It's 3:11 p.m. on a cold, gray day on the North Korean side of the most heavily armed border in the world, and a lone soldier is racing toward freedom."

  • "His dark olive-green jeep speeds down a straight, tree-lined road, past drab, barren fields and, headlights shining, across the replacement for the Bridge of No Return..."
  • "The shock of soldiers watching the jeep rush by is palpable from the video released Wednesday and no wonder: They're beginning to realize that one of their comrades is defecting to the South."
  • The defector crashes his jeep into a ditch.
  • The South says North Koreans fired about 40 rounds from AK-47s and rifles at the defector. No fire was exchanged between North and South Koreans.
  • The defector makes it over the border, and then turns around and runs back towards the North before collapsing by the wall. South Koreans crawl to pull him to safety.
  • "The entire sequence, from the first appearance of the jeep to the soldier's frenzied crossing, lasts four minutes."

A clue to life in North Korea: The defector had two surgeries to repair internal organ damage and is conscious. Surgeons "removed dozens of parasites from the soldier's ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea's military."

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