Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Friday joined the chorus of Republicans calling for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore to drop his bid amid widespread allegations of sexual misconduct and assault.
“I think for the sake of the country he needs to step aside,” the congresswoman said Friday, following a week in which lawmakers on Capitol Hill pledged to address harassment complaints through training and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., apologized for his treatment of a female radio show host during a benefit tour to Afghanistan a decade ago.
Allegations against Moore, the Republican judge who emerged triumphant earlier this fall in a primary with sitting Sen. Luther Strange, were first reported by the Washington Post. Multiple women have alleged Moore pursued them as teenagers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when he was in his 30s.
Moore has denied the allegations and resisted calls to drop out of the Dec. 12 runoff election for the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year. A Democratic victory shrinks the GOP’s margin for error in the Senate, where Republican dissenters have already doomed efforts at sweeping health care changes and imperil current efforts at tax reform, legislation McMorris Rodgers says must pass this year.
McMorris Rodgers’ statement echoes that of House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, who called for Moore to drop out of the race earlier this week. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, also called on Moore to end his campaign this week, after previously saying the allegations from multiple women should be verified.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for an ethics investigation into Franken following model and radio show host Leeann Tweeden’s account of an encounter with the comedian and lawmaker during a USO tour of Afghanistan in 2006. Tweeden also posted a photo of Franken pantomiming grabbing her breasts as she slept on a plane during the trip.
Franken has apologized and said he welcomed an investigation Thursday. President Donald Trump later tweeted criticism of Franken, but McMorris Rodgers said Friday she believed the Senate’s investigation should move forward.
“He’s voluntarily going before the ethics committee, and I think that’s important that we have the ethics committee take action,” McMorris Rodgers said.
The congresswoman did not say whether she’d heard about or experienced sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. But she said she supported requiring training for lawmakers and their staff, as proposed by Ryan.
“I think it’s important that people are educated as to what’s appropriate behavior, and that the victims have the support and the resources they need,” she said.
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