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Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday afternoon indicated he will not let Roy Moore serve in the U.S. Senate for long, if at all.

During a Wall Street Journal event, McConnell said that Moore would face a swift ethics probe if he wins the December election to fill the Alabama Senate seat.

“I think it’s safe to say that if he were to be sworn in, he would immediately be in a process before the Senate Ethics Committee,” McConnell said at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council when asked if he would try to expel Moore from the Senate. “He would be sworn in and be asked to testify under oath as well, and it would be a rather unusual beginning.”

McConnell and Republican leaders are also discussing ways to “salvage the seat” before the December election. McConnell said that a write-in campaign is the only option Republicans have to replace Moore before the election. He said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions likely has the best chance to pull off a write-in campaign but that he may not be “available.”

“The Alabamian who would fit that standard would be the attorney general,” Mr. McConnell said. “He’s totally well known and extremely popular in Alabama.”

Asked if a write-in campaign by Sessions is his preferred option, McConnell replied, “I’d like to save the seat, and it’s a heck of a dilemma when you’ve got a completely unacceptable candidate bearing the label of your party within a month of the election.”

Earlier on Tuesday, McConnell said that he and the White House were discussing the options for the race in the wake of allegations from several women that Moore pursued romantic or sexual relationships with them while they were teenagers. He said he would have further discussions with administration officials upon Trump’s return from his trip to Asia.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday afternoon that he and the White House have “looked at all the options” available for keeping Roy Moore out of the Senate in the wake of allegations from several women that Moore pursued them sexually or romantically when they were teenagers.

“There’s no question that there’s a deep concern here,” McConnell said at a brief press conference on Capitol Hill. “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate.”

McConnell has already unequivocally called for Moore to drop out of the race.

He told reporters Tuesday that he has spoken with President Donald Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Vice President Mike Pence about Moore over the past few days. McConnell said that once Trump returns from his Asia trip on Wednesday, he will speak with the White House more about the possibilities.

McConnell’s comments on his discussions with the White House came when asked if he would support an effort in the Senate to expel Moore if he wins the December election. McConnell would not answer directly and instead told reporters that Republicans are looking at all options. He added later that backing a write-in candidate is among the options being discussed.

The Senate leader was also asked whether he believes the women who accused Trump of sexual harassment given that he has said the women voicing allegations against Moore are credible.

McConnell dodged, saying, “We’re talking about the situation in Alabama.”

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Upon taking office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke looked into redesigning the department’s flag and making it bigger, emails surfaced by the Huffington Post on Tuesday show.

Zinke started inquiring about making the changes just one week after he became the department’s secretary, according to the Huffington Post. In an email one week after Zinke took office, an Interior Department staffer said that Zinke would be able to make the department’s flag and the interior secretary’s flag bigger, so long as they are not larger than the American flag that flies atop the building, according to an email obtained by the Huffington Post. The staffer said it was unclear whether Zinke could change the flags’ design, per the report.

As secretary, Zinke has started a new tradition of raising a secretarial flag atop the department’s Washington, D.C., headquarters when he is in the building, and raising the deputy secretary’s flag when Zinke is out of town.

He has also redecorated his office in the Interior Department with the heads of an elk and a bison mounted on the wall, the Huffington Post reported. He also brought in a taxidermy grizzly bear and bobcat, per the Huffington Post.

Zinke is one of several cabinet leaders to come under scrutiny for his spending, particularly on air travel. He used military and private planes to attend events in Montana and the Caribbean islands.

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Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore was a regular at the mall in Gadsden, Alabama in the late 1970s and early 1980s, where he was known to flirt with teenage girls, according to several locals who spoke with the New Yorker and AL.com.

Moore would often go to the mall alone, where he would flirt with teenage girls, and employees at the mall were told to keep an eye on him, according to Wednesday reports from the New Yorker and AL.com.

Greg Legat told both outlets that he worked at the mall in the 19080s and that an off-duty police officer, J.D. Thomas, told him to keep an eye out for Moore. Legat told the New Yorker that Thomas said Moore was banned for the mall but did not specify a reason. Thomas would not discuss Moore with the New Yorker when reached by phone.

Jason Nelms, who regularly visited Gadsden Mall as a teenager in the 1980s, told both outlets that he was told that workers had to keep an eye out for an older man who tried to pick up girls at the mall. Nelms said that he was later told the man was Moore, per the New Yorker and AL.com.

Two of the women who spoke to the Washington Post and alleged that Moore pursued them while they were teenagers said that they met Moore at the mall. The Washington Post reported last week that Moore often walked around the Gadsden Mall alone, citing several women who worked there at the time.

The New Yorker was not able to confirm on the record that Moore was banned from the Gadsden Mall, but several unnamed locals told the magazine that Moore was not allowed at the mall. However, more than a dozen people told the New Yorker that they had heard that Moore was banned from the mall, including former law enforcement officers.

Etowah County, Alabama resident Sheryl Porter told AL.com that it was widely known in the area that Moore liked to date teenage girls.

“Him liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school,” Porter said. “In our neighborhoods up by Noccalula Falls we heard it all the time. Even people at the courthouse know it was a well-known secret.”

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Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Monday night began his television show with a 20-minute rant about the liberal group Media Matters, which he claims tried to “silence” his show.

Several advertisers have pulled ads from Hannity’s show on Fox News over the anchors’ comments about allegations from several women against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. Hannity interviewed Moore on his radio show last week, where Moore denied any wrongdoing. Hannity said on his radio show that the allegations were serious but also suggested that at least some of the women were lying.

Monday night, Hannity singled out Media Matters, which kept track of Hannity’s comments on the matter and called on advertisers to ditch his program.

“They purposefully twist, lie, distort, propagandize, and weaponize whatever is said, whatever other people say, because they want to silence every conservative voice in the country,” Hannity said of Media Matters. “This is a dangerous time. They have been doing this somewhat successfully for years, and now it’s only getting worse.”

He said that the group took his comments about Moore out of context and “twisted it, diced and spliced, all for political partisan reasons.”

Hannity also called on his fans to stop destroying their Keurig coffee machines after the company’s CEO apologized for a tweet publicizing the company’s decision to pull ads from Hannity’s program. He said that Keurig was “targeted and preyed upon” by Media Matters and that Keurig is a “victim in this.”

In a letter obtained by the Washington Post on Monday, Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort wrote that the company’s social media team should not have publicized its decision to pull ads from Hannity’s show.

“This gave the appearance of ‘taking sides’ in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent,” Gamgort wrote.

Watch Hannity’s opening monologue via Fox News:

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday evening pulled his endorsement of Roy Moore over allegations that Moore pursued sexual relationships with teenage girls, but Cruz did not call outright for the Republican Alabama Senate candidate to drop out of the race.

“I am not able to urge the people of Alabama to support his candidacy so long as these allegations remain un-refuted,” Cruz told reporters, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Texas senator said that Moore should drop out if the allegations lodged against him are true, avoiding an unequivocal call for Moore to leave the race.

“One of two things should happen: If these allegations are true, Judge Moore should drop out now. Today,” he told reporters, per the Texas Tribune. “The people of Alabama deserve to have the option of voting for a strong conservative who has not committed criminal conduct. Or two, if these allegations are not true, then Judge Moore needs to come forward with a strong, persuasive rebuttal demonstrating that they are untrue.”

“Both last week and this week, there are serious charges of criminal conduct that if true, not only make him unfit to serve in the Senate but merit criminal prosecution,” Cruz added. “Judge Moore, like any American, is entitled to present a defense. He’s entitled to put forth the facts demonstrating that the charges are not true, but as it stands, I can’t urge the people of Alabama to support a campaign in the face of these charges without serious, persuasive demonstration that the charges are not true.”

The Texas senator was particularly concerned by the revelation from a new accuser on Monday that Moore had signed her high school yearbook.

“Grown men don’t typically sign high school girls’ yearbook. As the father of two young daughters, that is a disquieting allegation,” Cruz said, per the Texas Tribune’s Claire Allbright.

Cruz’s colleague Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) pulled his endorsement of Moore on Monday as well, but also stopped short of calling on Moore to leave the race.

Several Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have unequivocally called on Moore to leave the race.

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Keurig made headlines this weekend when the coffeemaker company revealed on Twitter that it had pulled ads from Sean Hannity’s Fox News program, prompting angry Hannity fans to destroy their Keurigs on camera.

However, it appears that the company’s CEO is not too happy with the publicity.

In a letter to staff obtained by the Washington Post, Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort wrote that the social media team should not have broadcast the company’s decision to temporarily yank advertising from Hannity’s show. A spokesperson for Keurig told TPM that the company was not releasing the letter but confirmed that a note was sent to employees Monday morning.

Gamgort argued that it was “unacceptable” for the social media team to broadcast the company’s decision on advertising strategy.

“This gave the appearance of ‘taking sides’ in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent,” Gamgort said of the company’s tweet, according to the Washington Post. “I want you to know the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols. Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happens again.”

“I apologize for any negativity that you have experienced as a result of this situation and assure you that we will learn and improve going forward,” he added later in the letter, per the Washington Post.

Keurig pulled its ads from Hannity’s show after Hannity interviewed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was recently accused of pursuing relationships with teenage girls, on his radio show. Gamgort wrote that Hannity’s comments “sparked a significant number of consumer complaints” but noted that the Fox host later apologized.

Read the full letter as posted at the Washington Post.

 

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In the wake of allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued relationships with teenage girls while in his 30s, GOP party leaders have distanced themselves from Moore. But the hard-right conservative’s most loyal allies have contorted themselves in an attempt to defend Moore from the allegations.

Moore was quick to deny the claims, first published in the Washington Post, including one from a woman who said Moore groped her when she was 14. He painted the Post report on the accusations as a political attack from the left.

His allies jumped on board, blaming the story on liberals trying to keep Moore out of the Senate. Some of Moore’s defenders also dismissed the allegations, either arguing that the claims did not amount to much or stating that the accusations were not enough to prompt them to abandon the Republican candidate in the race.

It’s a political attack

Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. defended Moore from the allegations on Friday, dismissing the allegations as a “desperate political attack.”

Alabama state Rep. Ed Henry (R) said that Moore’s accusers may “been offered money by entities that surround the Clintons and that side of the world.”

“We know they will pay to dirty anyone’s name that’s in their way. If you believe for a second that any of these are true then shame on these women for not coming forward in the last 30 years, it’s not like this guy hasn’t been in the limelight for decades. I call B.S. myself. I think it’s all lies and fabrication,” Henry told TPM Thursday.

Sallie Bryant, the chair the Republican party in Jefferson county, Alabama, told Politico that the Washington Post report was “politically motivated.”

“I am party chairman, and so therefore I am for the party’s nominees and for our candidates, but I really feel like the timing of this is very suspicious,” Bryant said.

Breitbart News fueled the conservative narrative that the Washington Post report was the result of a conspiracy against Moore with an article that the paper worked to convince one of the women to share her story. Nancy Wells, the mother of Leigh Corfman, who accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her, told Breitbart that Corfman only spoke out because of the Washington Post. Wells also said that Corfman chose to speak up for “for personal reasons,” not political ones.

With the unwavering support from his allies after the allegations, Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its decision to report the allegations.

The allegations aren’t a big deal

Alabama state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) told the Washington Examiner that the allegations are “much ado about nothing.” Zeigler said that even if the allegations are true, Moore never had sexual intercourse with any of the women. He also dismissed the revelations because the accusations are from “40 years” ago and Moore ”

“The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse,” Zeigler said.

He also compared Moore to biblical Joseph.

“Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Zeigler told the Washington Examiner

Though none of the women who spoke with the Washington Post accused Moore of initiating sexual intercourse, Corfman said that when she was 14 and Moore was in his 30s, he kissed her, took off her shirt and pants, and touched her over her bra and underpants.

David Hall, the chair of the Marion County, Alabama, Republican Party brushed off the allegations in an interview with Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, emphasizing that the incidents took place decades ago and arguing that there’s nothing wrong with a 30-year-old dating a teenager.

Breitbart Editor Joe Pollak emphasized that all but one of the accusers were 16 or 18 years old at the time of their encounters with Moore. He used those accusations, which he suggested were not problematic, to try to discredit all of the Washington Post’s reporting.

“If this story is true — and I think that any story about sexual misconduct, especially with someone who is underage, is very serious — why would the Washington Post wrap it with all kinds of perfectly legitimate relationships as well as all kinds of other political clutter?” he told MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Thursday.

Pollack did say that if the allegation that Moore groped a 14-year-old girl is true, “he’s really got some serious problems and I think that we need to drill down and find out what that is.”

Moore still preferable over Democratic candidate

Jerry Pow, the chair of the Bibb County, Alabama, GOP told Dale that he would still vote for Moore even if the allegations are true if only because he does not want the Democratic candidate to win.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity cheered on his fans on Sunday night as they published videos of themselves smashing their Keurig coffee makers due to the company’s boycott of Hannity’s show.

Keurig and several other companies, including 23 and Me, Eloquii and Nature’s Bounty, have pulled ads from Hannity’s Fox News show over the host’s coverage of the allegations that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. Moore joined Hannity’s radio show on Friday, where he denied the allegations published by the Washington Post, including one from a woman who said Moore groped her when she was 14.

Upset with Keurig in particular over its boycott of Hannity, the Fox host’s fans tweeted videos of them breaking the coffee machines. Hannity praised his “deplorable” viewers for their video protests on Twitter Sunday night.

 

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Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its report last week on allegations from several women who said Moore pursued relationships with them while they were teenagers.

During the Christian Citizen Task Force forum in Huntsville, Alabama, Moore said that the Washington Post “will be sued,” per NBC News.

At a Saturday event, Moore questioned why the four women came forward with their accusations now, just a month out from the December election, according to the Washington Post. The Senate candidate has painted the allegations as a “political attack” on him from the left.

“Why do they come now?” Moore said Saturday, per the Post. “Because there are groups that don’t want me in the United States Senate. They’re desperate.”

Four women accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One of the women said that Moore groped her when she was 14 and he was 32.

The Senate candidate and former state Supreme Court justice has denied the allegations, and claimed on Friday that he never so much as talked to Leigh Corfman, the woman who accused Moore of groping her.

During a Friday radio interview with Sean Hannity, Moore did acknowledge meeting two of the women and said he took them on dates and kissed them while they were in their late teens and he in his early 30s. But he denied doing anything wrong.

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