Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he has "no reason to doubt" the women who have accused the US Senate candidate from Alabama of sexual misconduct.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said he had "no reason to doubt" the women who have come forward in recent days with sexual-misconduct accusations against Roy Moore, the Alabama Republican running for Sessions' vacated Senate seat.
Sessions made the remark during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee after Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked him whether he believed Moore's accusers, whether Moore should be seated in the Senate if he wins the election, and whether Sessions planned to introduce a Justice Department investigation into the allegations.
Sessions told Jackson Lee he had been instructed by Justice Department ethics advisers to remain uninvolved in the Senate campaign, and he said the department "will evaluate every case as to whether or not it should be investigated."
When asked by Jackson Lee whether the allegations against Moore would undergo a federal review by the Justice Department, Sessions responded, "We will do our duty."
A Washington Post article published last week documented four women's claims that Moore pursued relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
One of the women, Leigh Corfman, said Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32. She said he brought her to his home twice and on the second visit took off her clothes and touched her over her bra and underpants and then forced her to touch him over his underwear.
"I have no reason to doubt these young women," Sessions said during the hearing on Tuesday.
A fifth accuser, Beverly Young Nelson, came forward in a press conference on Monday to accuse Moore of sexually assaulting her in his car when she was a 16-year-old waitress and he was the district attorney of Alabama's Etowah County. As proof of their relationship, Nelson displayed a page of her high-school yearbook she said Moore had asked to sign during an earlier visit to the restaurant she worked at.
"To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, 'Merry Christmas.' Love, Roy Moore DA, 12-22-77, Olde Hickory House," the message said.
Top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have called on Moore to drop out of the race.
"I believe the women," McConnell said during a Monday press conference.
The chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, also said Monday that the Senate should expel Moore if he were to win the December 12 election.
"If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate," Gardner said in a statement.