In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore on more than one occasion cited murderous cult leader Charles Manson’s “family” to argue why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.

Moore, a religious conservative crusader whose Senate campaign is on the rocks because multiple women have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct with them (many when they were teenagers), argued on at least two occasions that legalizing gay marriage would lead to polygamy and allow mass murdering Manson to marry multiple women from his cult.

“It’s not a question of equal protection of law. Every person has the right to marry someone of the opposite gender. That’s always been true, that’s equal protection,” Moore said in early 2015 during a radio interview. “You can’t extend equal protection, say everybody’s got a right to marry anybody they want to, because then you can say Charles Manson had a family and we’ve got to recognize that family.”

Manson, a cult leader whose followers gruesomely murdered seven people including pregnant actress Sharon Tate in 1969, died on Sunday.

That radio interview isn’t the only time Moore used Manson to argue against gay marriage.

During an interview for the 2015 documentary “The State of Being Human,” Moore argued with documentarian David Merriman that gay marriage would lead to Manson-like polygamy.

You know who Charles Manson was? He had a family didn’t he? Well, it was called Charles Manson’s family, wasn’t it?” he said during a back-and-forth with Merriman. “But could they get married?”

When Merriman conceded Manson would legally have been allowed to marry one of his female followers, Moore fired back: “Why not two of them?”

That’s not the only slippery slope argument Moore made in his interview with Merriman — he also referenced bestiality and father-daughter incest.

“I have horses. My wife has horses. She loves her horse. Should she be able to marry her horse?” he asked.

Roy Moore from Dmi Video’s on Vimeo.

“Some men unfortunately love their daughter. And when she becomes of age, should they be able to get married?” he asked a minute later. “If it’s based on love, why shouldn’t a man be able to marry his daughter, and why shouldn’t a woman be able to marry her son?”

One woman has accused Moore of initiating a sexual encounter with her when she was 14 years old, while another has accused him of sexually assaulting her when she was 16. Other women have accused Moore of making passes at them or taking them out on dates when they were teens, or groping them without their consent.

The Democratic outside group American Bridge found the references and shared them with TPM. Moore’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his remarks.

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As his administration has steadily chipped away at the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that the public will blame the Democratic Party for any health care fallout.

Now, as Republicans in Congress inch towards striking what could be the biggest blow yet to Obamacare—sticking a provision repealing the individual mandate into their tax bill—even some on the right are starting to sweat that the GOP will fully own the issue going forward.

“You can make an argument that Obamacare is falling of its own weight, until we repeal the individual mandate,” a grave-faced Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters in the halls of the Capitol on Thursday. “I hope every Republican knows that when you pass a repeal of the individual mandate, it’s no longer their problem. It becomes our problem.”

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The man that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) defeated in his 2008 race told TPM Friday that one of the closest Senate races in history likely would have gone his way had Franken’s sexual harassment been public at the time.

“You’ve got to believe that photo is worth more than 312 votes,” former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) told TPM Friday morning, highlighting the exact margin of his 2008 loss to Franken a day after newscaster Leeann Tweeden came forward to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct in 2006 — and included photo evidence.

Coleman declined to further discuss the 2008 race and the current allegations, saying the picture of Franken “speaks for itself” and that he didn’t want to “sound like sour grapes.”

But the former senator is almost certainly right that he would have remained in the Senate if the accusations against Franken had come out before the election.

Coleman lost to Franken after one of the most bitter Senate races in recent memory — and an arduous legal battle afterwards that lasted eight full months, depriving Democrats of Franken’s vote in the Senate for the busy beginning of President Obama’s presidency.

Coleman initially led Franken on election night by 726 votes, a margin that shrank to 215 votes on an official count from the Minnesota secretary of state. The disputed election results then headed to a hotly contested recount — where Franken prevailed by a scant 225 votes. Coleman fought those results in court for months, eventually conceding in late June after the Minnesota Supreme Court rejected his challenge to the results.

But if the scandal that’s currently enveloping Franken had broken then, it’s hard to see how he would have defeated Coleman almost a decade ago, a result that would have deprived Democrats of a key Senate vote years.

Franken had to apologize during that campaign for controversial jokes he’d made in previous years — including a number of rape jokes.

“The things I said and wrote sent a message to some of my friends in this room, and the people in this state, that they can’t count on me to be a champion for women and for all people of Minnesota in this campaign and in the Senate. I’m sorry for that,” he said during the 2008 Democratic-Farmer-Labor state convention.

The allegations against Franken has quickly spurred a Senate Ethics Committee investigation that has the potential to end Franken’s career. And Tweeden’s damning photo is tailor-made for a campaign ad that could have ended Franken’s chances at the Senate.

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Two weeks after its introduction and following zero hearings, the House of Representatives passed an approximately $1.5 trillion dollar tax cut on Thursday. Most of the focus has been on the bill’s tax benefits for the wealthy and corporations, but some lawmakers are sounding the alarm that passage of the bill will also trigger an estimated $25 billion cut to Medicare.

With the Senate expected to take up its own bill after the Thanksgiving recess, Democrats struggling to mount an opposition to the bill see an opening in its controversial health care impacts—including the Medicare cuts, the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate, and the elimination of the medical expenses deduction in the House bill.

The Medicare cut—announced by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday—can only be waived by a majority of the House and a 60-vote supermajority of the Senate.

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The Alabama Republican Party is officially standing by their man.

The state party put out a statement defending Roy Moore on Thursday afternoon, attacking “the media and those from afar” for meddling in Alabama’s Senate election, and encouraging voters to back him in the Dec. 12 election.

That statement comes in spite of the growing list of women who have come forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual acts, up to nine as of Thursday afternoon, and calls from national Republicans for Moore to drop out. The accusations include Moore asking multiple teen girls on dates, sexually assaulting one of them, having a sexual encounter with another when she was 14 years old to groping another woman without her permission.

“The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said in a statement. “Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him. He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”

As TPM reported Thursday morning, the state party decided in a Wednesday night meeting to stand by Moore rather than disqualify his nomination. But the statement defending Moore is a step further than some state Republicans expected — especially following heavy criticism from the national party and demands that Moore drops out from lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who opposed Moore in the primary.

Moore has steadfastly refused to drop out of the race, and has some close allies on the state party committee. While some others on the 21-person committee want him gone, many are afraid of Moore’s rabid base, as some are running for office in the state and face primaries.

“This is an effort by Mitch McConnell and his cronies to steal this election from the people of Alabama and they will not stand for it,” he said at a Thursday rally before refusing to answer reporters’ questions about whether he’d dated any teenage girls when he was in his 30s, or whether he’d inappropriately touched any of them.

According to Buzzfeed, his supporters aggressively yelled at reporters after the event for daring to ask Moore questions.

Here’s Latham’s full statement:

“The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.” 

“Judge Moore has vehemently denied the allegations made against him. He deserves to be presumed innocent of the accusations unless proven otherwise. He will continue to take his case straight to the people of Alabama.”

“There is a sharp policy contrast between Judge Moore, a conservative Republican who supports President Trump, and the liberal Democrat who will fight and thwart the agenda of our president. We trust the Alabama voters in this election to have our beloved state and nation’s best interest at heart. 

“Alabamians will be the ultimate jury in this election- not the media or those from afar.”

“We are very grateful for the multitudes that have reached out to us with support and prayers. We ask God to guide us, politically and personally, with His mighty strength and wisdom. In turn, we also pray that justice and truth will prevail for all involved in this situation.”

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Senators in both parties called for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) alleged sexual misconduct on Thursday, in the latest such scandal to roil Capitol Hill.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called the news “deeply disturbing,” adding that there should be an official investigation into “any allegations against any member.”

Gillibrand, who has led the crusade to require sexual harassment training for lawmakers and Capitol Hill staff and make it easier for victims to come forward, spoke moments after Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for the Senate Ethics Committee to probe the allegations against Franken.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Franken’s home-state colleague, was even harsher in her statement.

“This should not have happened to Leeann Tweeden. I strongly condemn this behavior and the Senate Ethics Committee must open an investigation. This is another example of why we need to change work environments and reporting practices across the nation, including in Congress,” she said in a statement.

That’s the same place Democratic leaders landed after a chaotic few hours.

“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement after canceling a planned press conference. “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”

Franken himself released a statement apologizing for the actions, calling for an Ethics investigation, and promising to cooperate.

The allegations are the latest sexual misconduct claims to roil Capitol Hill, and come as Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s alleged improprieties with teenage women have thrown his race and the national GOP into chaos.

This time, it was Democrats who were scrambling to fake phone calls and avoid eye contact with reporters — though many were quick to criticize Franken’s alleged actions.

Senators in both parties initially refused to comment on the accusations from a news anchor that Franken groped and kissed her in 2006, claiming they had not yet read the news or ducked reporter questions as they raced to the Senate floor.

That included Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), another leader on sexual assault issues,  who would only say she’d “have a statement” soon.

She later issued a statement blasting Franken’s behavior.

“I have every reason to believe Ms. Tweeden’s account,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told reporters Thursday. “Women should be able to feel safe and free in their workplace, and if there are such allegations they should come forward.”

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) echoed Gillibrand’s comment that the allegations are “disturbing,” but like most lawmakers said he hadn’t had time to fully digest the news.

The news of the accusations against Franken comes as Capitol Hill—like the entertainment and tech industries—has started to grapple more publicly with its long legacy of sexual harassment and abuse and demand perpetrators be held accountable. Earlier this week, the Senate passed a resolution requiring all members and their staff to undergo sexual harassment training, and women lawmakers have introduced further legislation that would make it easier for staffers to report harassment.

As he sped from the Senate floor into his office on Thursday, GOP Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was asked if he’s surprised that there are now allegations against a sitting senator.

“Not entirely,” he quipped before closing the door.

Others, like Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), were hesitant to criticize Franken, who repeatedly said “I’m glad he apologized immediately” and refused to answer if an investigation was merited.

Baldwin’s staff later sent along a more extensive clarifying statement.

“This kind of behavior isn’t ok whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat and I support an Ethics Committee investigation,” Baldwin said in an a statement emailed from her press team.

Others clamped a phone to their ear to avoid reporter questions.

Even the usually chatty Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rushed by reporters in a wheelchair, barking at his staff that they needed to be ready to respond to “events as they develop,” and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told TPM he hadn’t heard enough to weigh in yet.

But no one in either party defended Franken.

“Sexual harassment and groping are never okay. They are never funny,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) told TPM. “Senator Franken should have to address the claims made in the article.”

Corrected on 11/16: A previous version of this story misidentified a Democratic senator who refused to discuss Franken.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), accused on Thursday of forcibly kissing and groping a woman on a USO tour in 2006 before he was in office, has made the prevention of sexual assault and violence against women one of his signature issues as a lawmaker.

Franken on Thursday said he “certainly” did not remember the incident “in the same way” as Leeann Tweeden, who accused Franken of kissing her over her protestations and later groping her in a photograph. Franken offered his “sincerest apologies.”

The senator’s curt statement stood in contrast to his previous extensive championing of legislation to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

In 2009, Franken introduced a provision to the next year’s defense appropriations bill that banned federal funding for “defense contractors who forced employees to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of rape, assault, wrongful imprisonment, harassment, and discrimination.”

In a statement at the time, Franken championed the amendment’s passage as “a great victory for victims of assault and discrimination who deserve their rightful day in court.”

The senator said the provision was inspired by the story of an employee for a defense contractor in Iraq, Jamie Leigh Jones, who alleged she was raped by coworkers.

“I will continue to stand up for folks like Jamie Leigh and everyone who needs a voice in Washington,” he said.

In 2011, Franken joined other Democratic senators to introduce the Arbitration Fairness Act (he reintroduced the bill in 2015) to “eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases.” Such clauses often apply to employees alleging workplace harassment.

Franken gave an emotional speech on the Senate floor in 2012 about the Violence Against Women Act, during which he cited the work Sheila Wellstone, the late wife of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), did with survivors of domestic violence.

“The VAWA reauthorization bill is another step toward a more just society as Sheila described it,” Franken said. “And I look forward to it becoming law.”

In 2016, after former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against the network’s then-president Roger Ailes and alleged she was fired after rejecting his advances, Franken and a number of other Democratic lawmakers allied with Carlson to reintroduce the arbitration legislation in 2017.

Amid the flood of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, whom dozens of women have accused of sexual harassment, assault or rape, Franken in October praised the accusers who have come forward as “incredibly brave.”

“It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks,” Franken wrote in a Facebook post. “And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common.”

Also in October, Franken pushed a bill to establish federal funding to train first responders and members of law enforcement in interviewing possible survivors.

Franken sponsored the legislation after a former intern raped a 19-year-old university student, Abby Honold, who reached out to Franken’s office to discuss the subject.

The senator has also tweeted, often and authoritatively, about the importance of supporting survivors.

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Less than an hour after news broke that a woman had accused Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of sexual misconduct toward her in 2006, before he ran for federal office, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for an official investigation into the allegations.

“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,” McConnell said. “I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.”


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