WASHINGTON — John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate, has pulled his endorsement of Roy Moore, the embattled GOP nominee for Senate in Alabama.
"I believe the accusations against Roy Moore are disturbing and, if true, disqualifying," Cornyn said Monday, according to Politico. "The most appropriate course of action, in my view, is to leave the final judgment in the hands of Alabama voters — where it has always belonged — and withdraw my endorsement."
Last week, The Washington Post reported allegations that Moore pursued sexual or romantic relationships with four teenagers, one of whom was 14. The situation escalated over the weekend, and a fifth woman accused Moore of inappropriate conduct.
Cornyn's comment marked another escalation in Senate leadership against Moore's campaign. He is running in a special election to succeed Jeff Sessions, who is now the U.S. attorney general.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier on Monday that he believed the previous four accusers and said that Moore should "step aside." U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, the chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm, called Moore "unfit" to serve in the U.S. Senate and said the chamber should expel him should he win the December race. Their statements came on the same day that a fifth woman accused Moore of making sexual or romantic advances toward her when she was a teenager.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who also endorsed Moore, has not pulled his support.
On Thursday, Cruz released a statement that was mostly in line with his colleagues at the time: "These are serious and troubling allegations. If they are true, Judge Moore should immediately withdraw. However, we need to know the truth, and Judge Moore has the right to respond to these accusations."
But the political situation has escalated. Base supporters in Alabama are sticking with Moore, as is former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, who has pledged back primary opponents for all Republican Senate incumbents, save one: Cruz.