“As of today, with the information that’s been introduced to me, and if these charges are not proven to be true, then I would continue to support and vote for Judge Moore,” Merrill said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Moore has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least five women in the past week. The Washington Post published a bombshell report based on interviews with more than 30 people, saying Moore pursued relationships with four teenagers while he was in his 30s. One woman said she was 14 years old when Moore initiated sexual contact with her. A fifth accuser came forward on Monday, alleging that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16 years old. Moore has denied all of the allegations.
The Alabama secretary of state would not say whether he believes the women accusing Moore, but suggested that “it’s possible” they were making up their claims.
“I have absolutely no idea what level of validity there is,” he said. “I don’t know whether or not they’re making it up or not because I don’t know their intention and I don’t know whether or not there are other things that have happened to them to cause them to come forward at this time.”
Merrill added that he found the timing of the allegations “odd and very interesting.”
Numerous Republicans in Congress have rescinded their support for Moore and have called on him to end his Senate bid. Multiple scenarios — from expulsion to write-in candidacies to holding hearings — have been raised.
Merrill said that there is the potential for next month’s election to be declared “null and void” if Moore formally withdraws his candidacy or the state’s Republican Party disassociates themselves from him, but he still receives the most votes. In that scenario, the governor would then have to call another special election. There is no majority requirement, Merrill noted, so if Democratic candidate Doug Jones or a write-in candidate received the most votes, they would win the Senate seat.