Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walked back his calls for embattled Alabama candidate Roy Moore to step aside after allegations of sexual misconduct, saying Sunday that “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”
“We’re going to let the people of Alabama decide, a week from Tuesday, who they want to send to the Senate, and then will address the matter appropriately,” McConnell, R-Ky., said on ABC's "This Week." McConnell was asked whether Moore should be referred to the Senate ethics committee if he wins the upcoming special election in Alabama.
"I have already said in the past that I thought this was a matter that would have to be considered by the committee," he said. "Ultimately, it would be up to them to make that decision. And they'll make it, depending upon whether Judge Moore ends up coming to the Senate."
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When pressed on if he believed Moore should be in the Senate, McConnell responded: “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call.”
“This election’s been going on a long time — there’s been a lot of discussion about. They’re going to make the decision a week from Tuesday,” he said.
“The ethics committee will have to consider the matters that have been litigated in the campaign should that particular candidate win,” he said.
The reaction was a far cry from last month, when McConnell told reporters he thinks Moore should “step aside” after the report that he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl.
At the time, McConnell also said he believes the women who came forward with accusations against Moore.
"I believe the women, yes," McConnell said Nov. 13 in response to a question from the media.
In response, Moore accused McConnell of trying to “steal the election from the people of Alabama," said McConnell "needs to step down.”
A week before those remarks, the Senate Republican leader had said Moore should step aside only if the allegations were proven true.
When asked on Sunday morning if there should be an investigation into the the more than a dozen women who have come forward to accuse President Donald Trump of sexual harassment assault and misconduct, McConnell said he has jurisdiction over the Senate, not the president.
“My job is to be the majority leader of the Senate. And we have jurisdiction over these matters when there is a Senator accused of wrongdoing, for example, we have two other ethics committee cases right now, Senator [Al] Franken and Senator [Robert] Menendez,” he said, referring to two Democrats facing accusations of ethics violations. “So, we will handle it in Senate when it comes to Senators' alleged behavior.”
Daniella Silva is a reporter for NBC News, specializing in immigration and inclusion issues, as well as coverage of Latin America.