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Esme Cribb

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Esme

Two more women on Wednesday came forward with allegations about Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s past misconduct. One said Moore asked her out when she was 17 years old, and another said he groped her when she was 28 years old, bringing the total number of women with allegations of sexual misconduct against Moore to seven, according to AL.com.

Kelly Harrison Thorp told AL.com that in 1982, when she was 17, she worked at a Red Lobster restaurant in Gadsden, Alabama, where Moore practiced law.

Thorp said that Moore came into the restaurant once and asked her out.

“I just kind of said, ‘Do you know how old I am?'” Thorp told AL.com. “And he said, ‘Yeah. I go out with girls your age all the time.'”

Thorp said she turned Moore down and told him she had a boyfriend, and said Moore walked away.

Moore last week claimed that he did “not generally” date women in their teens, and has denied the allegations brought against him by five women besides the two who came forward on Wednesday.

Thorp told AL.com that she knows one of the other women who has accused Moore of misconduct — Leigh Corfman, who told the Washington Post last week that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old. The age of consent in Alabama is 16 years old.

Thorp said she was proud of Corfman, and said women with allegations against Moore did not come forward previously because of his local influence.

“Everybody knew it wouldn’t matter,” she told AL.com, “that he would get elected anyway because his supporters are never going to believe anything bad about him.”

Tina Johnson, also from Gadsden, told AL.com that Moore flirted with her in 1991, when she was 28 years old, while Johnson was at Moore’s office to give her mother custody of her 12-year-old son. Johnson said her mother was also at the meeting.

“He kept commenting on my looks, telling me how pretty I was, how nice I looked,” Johnson told AL.com. “He was saying that my eyes were beautiful.”

Johnson said that Moore came around his desk and sat on its edge, so close that she could smell his breath, and asked her questions about her two young daughters. According to Johnson, Moore asked whether they were as pretty as she was, and his line of questioning made her uncomfortable.

When she and her mother got up to leave, Johnson said, Moore came up behind her after her mother had already walked through the doorway and grabbed Johnson’s rear.

“He didn’t pinch it; he grabbed it,” Johnson told AL.com.

Johnson said she told her sister about the encounter years later, and Johnson’s sister told AL.com that she remembered the discussion.

Regarding the recent flood of accusations against Moore, Johnson said women did not come forward previously because “no one asked.”

“It’s because somebody asked,” she said. “If anybody had asked, we would have told it.”

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Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Wednesday said he will not vote for Republican lawmakers’ tax cut bill. Without Johnson’s support, the measure is hanging onto life by one vote.

“If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “I’m not going to vote for this tax package.”

Johnson complained about the process Republican lawmakers used to write the tax legislation, and called it “pretty offensive, personally.”

His opposition may not be set in stone: After voicing opposition to a Republican health care bill in July, similarly depriving leadership of a crucial vote when conservatives had few to spare, Johnson alternately supported the bill and returned to indecision.

Republican Senate leadership on Tuesday introduced an amendment to the tax legislation that would repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, a provision that would save the government money at the cost of millions of people losing their health insurance.

Lawmakers hope to send the bill to Trump’s desk by the end of the year.

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A lawyer representing Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who stands accused of sexually pursuing minors and sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl years ago, on Wednesday argued that cultural norms surrounding the age of consent vary throughout the world.

Moore’s lawyer Trenton Garmon made the argument in response to questions about Moore’s remark last week that he did not recall “dating any girl without the permission of her mother.”

“Why would he need permission from any of these girls’ mothers if they weren’t underage?” Stephanie Ruhle asked Garmon on MSNBC.

“That’s a good question, and culturally I would say there’s differences. I looked up Ali’s background there,” Garmon replied, referring to Ruhle’s co-host Ali Velshi. “Wow. That’s awesome, that you’ve got such a diverse background. It was cool to read through that.”

“What does Ali’s background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?” Ruhle shot back.

“I’m not finished with the context of it,” Garmon said.

“Well, please answer,” Ruhle pressed. “What does Ali Velshi’s background have to do with dating children, 14-year-old girls?”

“Sure,” Garmon said. “In other countries there’s arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage, so—”

“Ali’s from Canada,” Ruhle interrupted. “Ali’s from Canada.”

“I understand that. And Ali’s also spent time in other countries. It’s not a bad thing,” Garmon said.

“So have I,” Ruhle said.

“I don’t know where you’re going with this, Trenton,” Velshi, who was born in Kenya and raised in Ontario, said.

Watch the exchange:

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Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday said he does not think the “threshold” has been met to appoint a special counsel to look into matters related to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

“You can investigate something without special counsel,” Gowdy said on Fox News. “There is a threshold that has to be met, and I don’t think it has been met.”

During a House Judiciary hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) grilled Attorney General Jeff Sessions about what it would take to get a special counsel investigation into the so-called Trump dossier and various Clinton-related accusations.

Sessions on Tuesday pushed back, and told Jordan that there must be a “factual basis” to appoint a special counsel.

“‘Looks like’ is not enough basis to appoint a special counsel,” Sessions said. “You can have your idea, but sometimes we have to study what the facts are and to evaluate whether it meets the standard that requires a special counsel.”

Gowdy said he did not sign a letter Republican lawmakers sent Sessions asking for a special counsel’s appointment to investigate those matters.

“Jim Jordan is a great friend. I have tremendous respect for him. I didn’t sign the letter, because I don’t think the threshold has been met for an appointment of special counsel,” he said. “To say we’re not going to appoint special counsel is not to say we aren’t going to look into anything.”

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The Republican National Committee on Tuesday withdrew from a joint fundraising agreement with Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore after five women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

According to a Federal Election Commission filing, the RNC was no longer listed as a member of the fundraising agreement with Moore’s Senate campaign as of Tuesday.

Politico reported, citing an unnamed senior party official briefed on the decision, that the committee is also canceling a field program and will no longer give money to the Senate race.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) dropped its fundraising agreement with Moore last week, and NRSC chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Monday called on the Senate to “expel” Moore if he refuses to withdraw from the race and wins.

Four women alleged last week that Moore pursued them sexually while they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One woman said that Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was 14 years old. A fifth woman on Monday accused Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday announced that the House will adopt “mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training” for lawmakers and staff after a hearing earlier Tuesday on a bill that would make such training mandatory.

“Going forward, the House will adopt a policy of mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training for all Members and staff,” Ryan said in a statement.

He said Tuesday’s hearing “was another important step in our efforts to combat sexual harassment and ensure a safe workplace” and said that “harassment in any form has no place in this institution.”

“I want to especially thank my colleagues who shared their stories,” Ryan said. “We will continue our review to make sure the right policies and resources are in place to prevent and report harassment.”

During a hearing by the House Administration Committee on Tuesday, Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Barbara Comstock (R-VA), both women, said several men who are current members of Congress have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Comstock said she heard a story from a trusted source about a male lawmaker who answered the door wearing only a towel to a female staffer delivering documents to his home. The lawmaker then invited the staffer inside and exposed himself to her, according to Comstock.

Speier said she heard allegations this year of interns getting propositioned for sex and “victims having their private parts grabbed on the House floor,” and will introduce a bill later this week to reform the current process for reporting sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday announced he will give away hundreds of Keurig coffeemakers to fans of his show, who have been smashing the machines en masse in protest of the company’s decision to pull advertising from the conservative commentator’s show.

“To all of my supportive and devoted fans of the show, I am giving away 500 Keurig machines as a thank you for always standing by me,” Hannity tweeted. “We accept the apology of the Keurig CEO, and look forward to enjoying a nice cup of apolitical Joe.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the contest was closed, according to Hannity’s site.

Diehard fans of Hannity’s show posted videos of themselves smashing their Keurig machines over the weekend after Keurig announced it was pulling ads from Hannity’s show over his coverage of sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Hannity cheered on the destruction over the weekend, but urged fans to leave their Keurigs intact after the coffee maker company’s CEO Bob Gamgort on Monday said it was “unacceptable” for the social media team to broadcast the company’s decision to yank ads.

Despite Hannity’s claim, Gamgort did not apologize to Hannity. In a letter to staff obtained by the Washington Post, the CEO apologized to employees “for any negativity” they experienced as a result of the announcement.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said he has “no reason to doubt” the women accusing Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually pursuing them when they

“I have no reason to doubt these young women,” Sessions said in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.

Sessions previously represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Moore is the Republican nominee in the race to fill Sessions’ old seat.

Four women last week accused Moore of pursuing relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said she was 14 years old — two years younger than the age of consent in Alabama — when Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her.

A fifth woman, Beverly Young Nelson, on Monday  alleged that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old and attempted to force her to have sex with him.

Moore has denied the allegations and remains in the race, amid Republican officials’ calls for him to step down.

Asked whether the Department of Justice would consider a federal review of the allegations against Moore if he wins his Senate race, Sessions said, “We will do our duty.”

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday said allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are “credible,” and he called on Moore to step down from the race.

“He should step aside,” Ryan said at a press conference with House Republican leaders. “Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”

Four women last week accused Moore of sexually pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. One woman, Leigh Corfman, said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old.

A fifth woman on Monday alleged that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old. Beverly Young Nelson said Moore attempted to force her to have sex with him, and said she thought he was going to rape her.

Moore has denied all the allegations and remains in the race.

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