The dagger here isn’t the emotion of Beverly Young Nelson, Moore’s newest accuser, although that was plenty damaging too. (Her nose was running visibly at one point from crying.) The dagger is a piece of hard evidence she claims to have proving that Moore knew her. She says Moore was a regular at a restaurant where she worked in the late 1970s, when he was already the local D.A. and she was just 15. One day when she was 16 her boyfriend was late in picking her up from work so Moore allegedly offered her a ride home. What happened after they got in the car, according to Nelson:
Beverly Young Nelson alleges Roy Moore “began squeezing my neck attempting to force my head into his crotch.” She was 16. pic.twitter.com/dForLnaVnp
— Alex Silverman (@AlexSilverman) November 13, 2017
How do we know they were acquainted? Nelson says Moore was friendly enough with her at the restaurant to have signed her high-school yearbook at the time. Do the signatures match? Here’s a side-by-side via Josh Barro:
Nelson says she told no one immediately, but claims that her neck was sufficiently bruised that she needed make-up to cover it up. She did eventually tell her sister and husband a few years ago, she says, which they’ll presumably corroborate. She says she and her husband both voted for Trump and that she’s willing to testify to all of this under oath, in case the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to hold hearings. Which, ahhhhhh, I’m thinking they probably don’t want to do.
Team Moore put out this statement before the press conference:
— Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson) November 13, 2017
What now? Needless to say, what Nelson describes is much worse than what his accusers in the WaPo story alleged. She’s claiming criminal behavior here, not Moore writing romantic poetry for 17-year-olds.
Cory Gardner, the current head of the organization tasked with getting GOPers elected to the Senate, has gone nuclear:
🚨 from NRSC Chair Cory Gardner:
Roy Moore is "unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office. 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 … Senate."
— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) November 13, 2017
I’m confused. What outcome is the GOP hoping for now in Alabama? They’re not endorsing Democrat Doug Jones, of course, but the head of the NRSC is now recommending that Moore be expelled if he wins, which would trigger a new special election. Will the Alabama legislature change the law to allow the state’s Republican governor to appoint someone to the seat to finish Jeff Sessions’s term? One cockamamie idea floating around is the idea of a Luther Strange write-in campaign. McConnell hinted at that possibility in his statement earlier and now Orrin Hatch is pushing Strange:
I stand with the Majority Leader on this. These are serious and disturbing accusations, and while the decision is now in the hands of the people of Alabama, I believe Luther Strange is an excellent alternative. https://t.co/L7IallXhBc
— Orrin G. Hatch Foundation (@OrrinHatch) November 13, 2017
Strange running as a write-in alongside Moore is a fine strategy for getting Jones elected to the seat by splitting the Republican vote. And it’ll be seen as such by populists, which will make McConnell even more of a curse word among the base. He’ll have crossed the line from supporting establishment GOPers over populists to supporting Democrats over them. If Strange were to run as a write-in *instead* of Moore, with Moore withdrawing from the race, you’d run into a similar problem except with Moore fans playing spoiler. Doubtless many of them would choose Moore on the ballot as a protest vote instead of writing in Strange. Others would stay home. Maybe … convince Jeff Sessions to quit as AG and run as a write-in? The GOP’s running out of even mediocre options here.