WASHINGTON — A second woman emerged Monday to accuse Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in the late 1970s, this time in a locked car, further roiling the Alabama Republican's candidacy for an open Senate seat. Moore strongly denied it, even as his own party's leaders intensified their efforts to push him out of the race.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a remarkably personal swipe at his party's candidate for a Senate seat the GOP cannot afford to lose. "I believe the women," he said, marking an intensified effort by leaders to ditch Moore before a Dec. 12 special election that has swung from an assured GOP victory to one that Democrats could conceivably swipe.
Moore abruptly called a news conference in Gallant, Alabama, after a tearful Beverly Young Nelson's detailed the new allegations to reporters in New York.
"I can tell you without hesitation this is absolutely false. I never did what she said I did. I don't even know the woman," Moore said.
He signaled he has no intention of ending his candidacy, calling the latest charges a "political maneuver" and launching a fundraising appeal to "God-fearing conservatives" to counter his abandonment by Washington Republicans.
In the latest day of jarring events, McConnell, R-Ky., and Moore essentially declared open war on each other. McConnell said the former judge should quit the race over a series of recent allegations of past improper relationships with teenage girls. No, said Moore, the Kentucky senator is the one who should get out.
"The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp," Moore wrote on Twitter.
Nelson's news conference came after that exchange and injected a new, sensational accusation in the story.
She said Moore was a regular customer at the restaurant where she worked after school in Gadsden, Alabama.
One night when she was 16, Moore offered to drive her home, she said, but instead parked behind the restaurant and touched her breasts and locked the door to keep her inside. She said he squeezed her neck while trying to push her head toward his crotch and tried to pull her shirt off.
"I thought that he was going to rape me," she said.
Moore finally stopped and as she got out of the car, he warned that no one would believe her because he was a county prosecutor, Nelson said. She said her neck was "black and blue and purple" the next morning and she immediately quit her job.
Nelson said that shortly before that, days before Christmas, she'd brought her high school yearbook to the restaurant and Moore signed it. A copy of her statement distributed at the news conference included a picture of what she said was his signature and a message saying, "To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say, 'Merry Christmas.'"
Nelson said she told her younger sister about the incident two years later, told her mother four years ago and told her husband before they married. She said she and her husband supported Donald Trump for president.
Last Thursday, The Washington Post reported that in 1979 when he was 32, Moore had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl and pursued romantic relationships with three other teenage girls around the same period. The women made their allegations on the record and the Post cited two dozen other sources.
Moore has called the allegations "completely false and misleading," but in an interview last week he did not unequivocally rule out dating teenage girls when he was in his early 30s. Asked by conservative radio host Sean Hannity if that would have been usual for him, Moore said, "It would have been out of my customary behavior."
McConnell, speaking Monday at an event in Louisville, Kentucky, said Moore "should step aside" and acknowledged that a write-in effort by another candidate was possible. He said, "We'll see," when asked if the Republican alternative could be Sen. Luther Strange, whom Moore ousted in a September party primary.
But Strange told reporters late Monday "a write-in candidacy is highly unlikely."
"I made my case during the election," Strange said. "So now, it's really going to be up to the people of our state to sort this out."
Trump, who is traveling in Asia, has told people he wanted to wait to get back to Washington until he weighed in, according to a White House official who would not be named discussing private conversations. Trump is slated to return late today.
By Monday afternoon, Moore was showing no signs of folding.
He assured supporters Sunday night at a Huntsville, Alabama, gym that the Post article was "fake news" and "a desperate attempt to stop my political campaign."
He said allegations that he was involved with a minor are "untrue" and the newspaper "will be sued." The former judge also questioned why such allegations would be leveled for the first time so close to the special election in spite of his decades in public life.
BURLEY — A Salt Lake City man entered a plea Nov. 13 acknowledging a jury would likely find him guilty of two counts of aggravated battery for running an Oregon couple’s SUV off the road on Interstate 84 in April.
Marco Antonio Garcia-Garcia, 28, was charged when, police said, he rammed Kenneth and Judith Wallace’s Toyota SUV with his Toyota Camry after weaving across the road, tailgating them, and stopping on the interstate before reversing toward them.
Garcia-Garcia entered an Alford plea, which means he maintains his innocence, but believes a jury could find him guilty in a trial based on the evidence against him. In court, it has essentially the same effect as a guilty plea.
When Kenneth Wallace, who was driving, took the milepost 245 exit, he said Garcia-Garcia hit their SUV from behind and spun them around. The Wallaces said he then drove his car into them again causing it to roll off the west side of the off ramp.
Judith Wallace said in court records that their SUV rolled three times.
Garcia-Garcia is set to be sentenced Dec. 5 in Cassia County District Court.
According to a plea agreement, prosecutors will argue that Garcia-Garcia spend five to 12 years in prison and dismiss the enhanced penalty for use of a deadly weapon.
The Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center recorded that Garcia-Garcia had been in jail for 208 days on Monday.
The Wallaces, who were treated at Cassia Regional Hospital for concussions and multiple bruises and cuts, told police that after their SUV rolled, Garcia-Garcia got out of his car and tried to get in theirs, but the doors were locked.
A first responder said Garcia-Garcia was yelling at the couple.
When police arrived, Garcia-Garcia was arrested. He denied hitting the vehicle with his car but said he was mad because “vehicles were following him,” police said.
TWIN FALLS — A teen boy has been charged in the hit-and-run accident at a Twin Falls McDonald’s that was a close call for restaurant diners.
Police say a 14-year-old boy drove into the front of the McDonald’s building at 110 Addison Ave. W. Nov. 3 while he was waiting for a friend who was inside the adjacent convenience store. The Ford Explorer came close to hurting two children inside the restaurant, Valley Food Service President Bill Kyle told the Times-News.
The boy fled the scene in the truck before police could arrive, leaving his friend at the service station, police reports say.
“His vehicle died a few blocks away from the location of the accident,” Lt. Terry Thueson said. “He did get out and ran on foot.”
Police worked to track him down as he fled to his home on the north side of town. Hours later, his parents turned him in, Thueson said.
The boy was taken into custody and charged with leaving the scene of an accident — a misdemeanor crime because there were no injuries.
But it was a close call, said Kyle, who went to the restaurant as soon as he found out about the crash. One child inside said a portion of the wall hit in in the leg, but he wasn’t hurt enough to need medical attention.
Another younger child, Kyle said, had been walking toward the door to go out, but got out of the way just in time.
Police have not confirmed whether the 14-year-old driver had a valid driver’s license. In Idaho, children are eligible for driver’s education at 14 ½ years.
The driver was not cited with any lesser violations, but Thueson said the responding officer wouldn’t necessarily add lesser charges, if applicable, because a guilty plea could nullify the higher charge.
“The kid was using somebody else’s vehicle, and the owner of the vehicle has no insurance,” Kyle said.
He’d also been told that the owner of the vehicle was in jail at the time of the accident. Kyle said his priority is to make necessary repairs first, but then he would probably pursue getting payment for the damages from the driver’s parents. He estimates damages to be at least $5,000
“My deductible won’t even touch that, so it’s going to be entirely out-of-pocket,” Kyle said.
The loss to business due to the boarded-up entrance has been “detrimental,” he added. A sign posted on the boards outside tells customers they can enter the restaurant from the convenience store.
Repairs will probably not be complete until the end of the month, and include replacing metalwork, brickwork, tiles and damaged furniture.
WASHINGTON — Promoted as needed relief for the middle class, the Senate Republican tax overhaul actually would increase taxes for some 13.8 million moderate-income American households, a nonpartisan analysis showed Monday.
The assessment by Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation emerged as the Senate's tax-writing committee began wading through the measure, working toward the first major revamp of the tax system in some 30 years.
Barging into the carefully calibrated work that House and Senate Republicans have done, President Donald Trump called for a steeper tax cut for wealthy Americans and pressed GOP leaders to add a contentious health care change to the already complex mix.
Trump's latest tweet injected a dose of uncertainty into the process as the Republicans try to deliver on his top legislative priority. He commended GOP leaders for getting the tax legislation closer to passage in recent weeks and then said, "Cut top rate to 35% w/all of the rest going to middle income cuts?"
That puts him at odds with the House legislation that leaves the top rate at 39.6 percent and the Senate bill as written, with the top rate at 38.5 percent.
Trump also said, "Now how about ending the unfair & highly unpopular individual mandate in (Obama)care and reducing taxes even further?"
Overall, the legislation would deeply cut corporate taxes, double the standard deduction used by most Americans, and limit or repeal completely the federal deduction for state and local property, income and sales taxes. It carries high political stakes for Trump and Republican leaders in Congress, who view passage of tax cuts as critical to the GOP preserving its majorities at the polls next year.
With few votes to spare, Republican leaders hope to finalize a tax overhaul by Christmas and send the legislation to Trump for his signature.
The key House leader on the effort, Rep. Kevin Brady, said he's "very confident" that Republicans "do and will have the votes to pass" the measure this week.
Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he doesn't expect major changes to the bill as it moves to a final vote in the House. Still, he said Trump's call for removing the requirement to have health insurance as part of the tax agreement "remains under consideration."
Trump and the Republicans have promoted the legislation as a boon to the middle class, bringing tax relief to people with moderate incomes and boosting the economy to create new jobs.
"This bill is not a massive tax cut for the wealthy. ... This is not a big giveaway to corporations," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, insisted as the panel had its first day of debate on the Senate measure.
Hatch also downplayed the analysis by congressional tax experts showing a tax increase for several million U.S. households under the Senate proposal. Hatch said "a relatively small minority of taxpayers could see a slight increase in their taxes."
The committee's senior Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, said the legislation has become "a massive handout to multinational corporations and a bonanza for tax cheats and powerful political donors."
The analysis found that the Senate measure would actually increase taxes in 2019 for 13.8 million households earning less than $200,000 a year. That group, about 10 percent of all U.S. taxpayers, would face tax increases of $100 to $500 in 2019. There also would be increases greater than $500 for a number of taxpayers, especially those with incomes between $75,000 and $200,000. By 2025, 21.4 million households would have steeper tax bills.
The analysts previously found a similar magnitude of tax increases under the House bill.
Neither bill includes a repeal of the so-called individual mandate of Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, the requirement that Americans get health insurance or face a penalty. Several top Republicans have warned that including the provision, as Trump wants, would draw opposition and make passage tougher.
A key moderate Republican in the Senate said it's too early to say whether including repeal of the insurance mandate would cost her vote on the tax bill. "I'm going to see what the Finance Committee winds up with and what we do on the (Senate) floor," said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
Collins did say she opposed Trump's idea of reducing the top tax rate for the wealthiest earners.
Among the biggest differences in the two bills that have emerged: the House bill allows homeowners to deduct up to $10,000 in property taxes while the Senate proposal unveiled by GOP leaders last week eliminates the entire deduction. Both versions would eliminate deductions for state and local income taxes and sales taxes.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked whether the Senate's proposed repeal of the property tax deduction could bring higher taxes for some middle-class Americans, acknowledged there would be some taxpayers who end up with higher tax bills.
"Any way you cut it, there is a possibility that some taxpayers would get a higher rate," McConnell told reporters after a forum in Louisville, Kentucky, with local business owners and employees. "You can't craft any tax bill that guarantees that every single taxpayer in America gets a tax break. What I'm telling you is the overall majority of taxpayers in every bracket would get relief."