Thursday July 2nd, 2020 3:22PM

The Latest: Alabama GOP meeting ends without vote on Moore

By The Associated Press
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on Republican Roy Moore and the special U.S. Senate election in Alabama (all times local):

10:20 p.m.

A meeting of Alabama GOP officials has ended without a vote on whether the party should pull its support for Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Three sources familiar with the meeting of the 21-member party steering committee say the group met for hours Wednesday night but did not take a vote.

The party is expected to maintain its support for Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct three decades ago.

The state party has been silent for the last week as national Republicans called for Moore to step down. Some local GOP groups have called on the party to maintain support for Moore.

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9:30 p.m.

Roy Moore signed an order in a divorce case involving Beverly Young Nelson in 1999, documents show, but they do not reflect whether Moore ever saw her in court during the proceeding.

Court records show Beverly Harris sought a divorce from Ervine Lee Harris III on May 25, 1999. The couple had three children, and District Judge W.D. Russell scheduled a child custody hearing for June 16, 1999.

The judge later delayed the hearing at the request of the woman. The next month, Moore signed an order dismissing the divorce case at the woman's request; records do not indicate Moore or any other judge ever held a hearing where the woman might have seen Moore.

In an attempt to undermine Nelson's credibility, Moore's lawyer pointed out the divorce case Wednesday, rejecting Nelson's claim she had no contact with Moore since the 1970s.

___

7 p.m.

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore tells Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity he never dated "underage girls" but won't be commenting further.

Tuesday night, Hannity called on Moore to explain "inconsistencies" in his response to allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers or exit the Alabama race. Moore had given his single media interview about the allegations to Hannity. In that interview, he did not wholly rule out dating teenagers as a man in his 30s.

Moore's campaign has issued an open letter to Hannity, saying Moore denies the allegations of sexual assault and did not date "underage girls."

Moore writes that "at the direction of counsel, I cannot comment further" because he is considering defamation lawsuits.

___

6:15 p.m.

Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt says he's sticking with his support for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, for now.

The Republican says that "at this point I have no reason not to vote for Judge Moore." He notes that Moore has denied accusations of sexual misconduct, telling reporters, "I'm taking it in just like you're taking it in."

Aderholt says he has represented Moore's hometown for 20 years, and "I have never, before these articles came out, I had never even heard anything about this."

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby said earlier Wednesday that he won't vote for Moore.

Asked if he'd be part of a write-in effort, Aderholt declined. He says, "Judge Moore is the nominee for all I know, for all I'm concerned."

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4:10 p.m.

An attorney for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore is trying to discredit molestation allegations by a woman who says the Republican assaulted her when she was 16.

Attorney Phillip L. Jauregui said during a news conference Wednesday that they had hired a handwriting analyst to look into whether the signature in Beverly Young Nelson's yearbook is authentic.

The attorney also tried to poke other holes in her story.

Jauregui represented Moore in cases involving the Ten Commandments monument and same-sex marriage.

___

4:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump isn't saying whether Republican Roy Moore should drop out of the Alabama Senate race following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Reporters at the White House asked Trump Wednesday whether Moore should step aside or whether he believed Moore's accusers after Trump delivered a lengthy recap of his foreign travels this year.

Trump walked off without answering any questions.

Trump is under pressure to weigh in on the matter. Other top Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said publicly that Moore should leave the race. Moore says he does not intend to step aside.

The election is Dec. 12.

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3:35 p.m.

Republican Roy Moore is trailing his Democratic opponent in polling conducted by the Senate GOP's campaign arm, even though Alabama hasn't elected a Democratic senator in a quarter-century.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee found that Democrat Doug Jones led Moore by 12 points — 51 percent to 39 percent — in a survey of 500 Alabama voters conducted Sunday and Monday. The Associated Press has reviewed the committee's internal numbers.

That's a dramatic downward shift for Moore, who led by 9 points based on the organization's internal polling in the days immediately before the first allegations of sexual misconduct were revealed.

The Senate committee, like virtually the entire national GOP, has called for Moore to quit the race.

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2:05 p.m.

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby says he will write in the name of a Republican who is not Roy Moore in next month's special election.

Shelby told reporters on Wednesday that there is little recourse to stop Moore even if the state GOP's executive committee asked him to leave. National Republicans have been calling for Moore to step aside in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct decades ago.

Shelby said: "It's not a good situation. I wish we had another candidate."

He said Jeff Sessions, who held the seat, would be an "ideal candidate" but noted that Sessions is already attorney general.

Shelby said he is worried about damage to the Republican brand.

He said: "I think that's on everybody's mind."

He added that even if President Donald Trump weighs in, you still have to find another candidate. The election is Dec. 12.

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2 p.m.

The steering committee of the Alabama Republican Party is expected to meet to discuss how to respond to the scandal enveloping Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

The state party has so far been silent about the sexual misconduct allegations facing Moore despite a growing number of Republicans who have called for him to leave the race.

Three people with knowledge of the meeting said the committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon by phone.

The committee could vote to disqualify Moore which would prevent him from taking office. The party could also pass a resolution in support of Moore.

Bill Armistead, Moore's campaign chairman and a former Republican Party chairman, told The Associated Press he'd seen no indication the state party will "back off in any way" from Moore.

—by Kimberly Chandler

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1:50 p.m.

National Republicans are pressuring Alabama's party to get Roy Moore to abandon his U.S. Senate race. Many are voicing hopes that President Donald Trump can use his clout to resolve a problem that Republicans say leaves them with no easy options.

On the ground in Alabama, however, the intraparty battle grew nastier Wednesday.

Alabama Republican leaders highlighted state party rules that could allow them to crack down on Alabama officials who support anyone other than Moore, who is facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Moore has denied wrongdoing.

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12:50 p.m.

The executive editor of The Washington Post is dismissing as fake a call from someone claiming to be one of the newspaper's reporters seeking damaging information on Roy Moore in exchange for money.

Marty Baron says the caller's reporting methods bear "no relationship to reality."

An Alabama man says he received a phone message from someone claiming to be a Post reporter willing to pay thousands of dollars for dirt on Senate candidate Moore. The Post broke the story last week of allegations of sexual misconduct by Moore decades ago.

Al Moore told WKRG-TV on Tuesday that the person offered to pay as much as $7,000 to women willing to make damaging remarks about the Republican candidate. Al Moore shared a recording with The Associated Press.

___

6:30 a.m.

Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity has given Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore 24 hours to explain "inconsistencies" in his response to allegations of child molestation false or exit the Alabama race.

Hannity called on Moore during his show Tuesday night to "immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation" for "inconsistencies." Moore has repeatedly denied allegations of sexual misconduct years ago.

Keurig announced Saturday it had pulled advertising from "Hannity" after several Twitter users questioned the host's coverage of the allegations against Moore. The move drew anger from conservatives, some of whom posted videos of themselves smashing Keurig coffee-makers

___

3:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump spent five days in Asia largely keeping the Alabama Senate scandal at bay. He won't be so lucky on U.S. soil.

The president returned to Washington on Tuesday night and walked straight into a party panic over the sexual misconduct accusations dogging GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. Having pushed publicly and privately for Moore to get out of the race, Republicans believe their last best shot is Trump, who they hope can persuade his fellow political rebel to fall in line.

Trump has given little indication whether he's interested in playing the role of party heavy. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has echoed other Republican leaders, saying last Friday that Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. But as other Republicans began to call for Moore to quit the race, Trump was notably silent in public.

.

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