Update: Sen. Bill Cassidy (La.) withdrew his support of Roy Moore on Saturday, joining Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Mike Lee (Utah).
Earlier: Two Republican senators withdrew their endorsements of Roy Moore on Friday evening, becoming the first prominent politicians to drop their support for the Alabama Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race.
Moore has been under fire since The Washington Post published a report Thursday detailing allegations from four women who said Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
The most serious story came from Leigh Corfman, who said she was just 14 when Moore sexually assaulted her.
While some GOP politicians have said Moore should step aside, Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.) and Mike Lee (Utah) are the first Moore backers to do so.
Daines made his announcement on Twitter.
Lee revealed his decision to a writer for The Washingtonian, citing both the accusations of Moore’s misconduct and his response to the allegations.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, also severed financial ties with Moore on Friday.
Moore, a far-right social conservative twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court for defying federal court orders, was never the so-called Republican establishment’s preferred candidate to fill the Senate seat vacated by the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
But with the backing of Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Moore defeated interim Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the GOP primary in September. Trump had endorsed Strange, and a super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spent millions trying to quash Moore’s bid.
Moore has drawn the ire of civil rights groups for his extreme positions. Among other stances, Moore has argued that homosexual intercourse should be illegal and that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.
Once Moore became the nominee, however, the national Republican Party mostly embraced him, with at least one GOP lawmaker offering that he thought Moore would support tax cuts, a key Republican priority. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in a Dec. 12 special election.
Since the Post published the accusations of sexual misconduct on Thursday, most GOP leaders have remained hesitant to completely disavow him. McConnell and other prominent Republican senators insisted on a wait-and-see approach on Thursday, arguing that Moore should drop out if additional proof emerges verifying the accounts of the women who spoke to the Post.
In Moore’s more detailed response to the accusations on Friday ― the comments that rankled Sen. Lee ― he only firmly denied assaulting Corfman, who claims he engaged in unwanted kissing and groping when she was 14.
“It never happened, and I don’t even like hearing it,” Moore said on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Friday.
He conceded in the interview that he knew two of the other women, who were 17 and 18 when they say Moore tried to date them, but claimed he never gave them alcohol and he didn’t remember trying to date them.
Asked by Hannity if he remembered dating teenagers when he was in his 30s, Moore said, “Not generally, no.”
“I don’t remember that, or dating any girl without the permission of her mother,” he added.
This article has been updated with more details on the accusations against Roy Moore and his denial Friday.