Mitch McConnell has again uttered his threat to subject Roy Moore to a Senate ethics investigation just as soon as Roy Moore is sworn in. Said McConnell yesterday, “If he were to be elected, he will immediately have an ethics committee case.”
It ain’t gonna happen.
There are two reasons: the Senate Ethics Committee has no jurisdiction. And number two, it will have no witnesses.
The most recent allegations against Moore are 39 years old. But the ethics committee only has jurisdiction over the conduct of senators while they are in office. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, their jurisdiction is restricted to “investigate violations of laws, rules, and regulations of the Senate relating to the conduct of Members, officers, and employees in their official duties.”
On more than one occasion in its history, this committee has refused even to begin an ethics investigation because it was being asked to look into allegations of behavior that took place before the accused was elected.
The committee simply has no authority to conduct an investigation into matters that occurred four decades before someone even became a United States senator. So unless Moore engages in sexual misconduct immediately after he is sworn in, and before the ethics committee convenes, the committee will have nothing to investigate. Good luck with that.
Secondly, and fatally, the ethics committee will have no witnesses to interview. Of the nine women who have been identified as Moore accusers, only two have accused him of actual sexual misconduct.
But the stories of those two have completely fallen apart under examination. Leigh Corfman’s story collapses in the face of court records. Her story is that Roy Moore made improper sexual advances against her at age 14, and the episode plunged her life into a downward spiral that lasted for years. She says their trysts were arranged through calls Moore made to her on a telephone she had in her own room. This is extremely unlikely on the face of it, in the era before cell phones when most families of modest means had just one phone in the entire house. The narrative is further complicated by her mother’s testimony that Leigh most definitely did not have her own in-room phone.
Further, court records indicate that on the day she supposedly met Moore, her mother was transferring custody of Leigh to Leigh’s father, who lived in a different town, because Leigh’s life was already spiraling downward (drugs, etc.). Court records also indicate that she was sent to live with her father almost immediately, so she wouldn’t even have been around for Moore to take advantage of. Then a year later, custody was transferred back to her mother because she was getting herself straightened out, again vitiating her story that Moore’s behavior plunged her into a decades-long downward journey.
I submit there is no way Leigh Corfman is going to be willing to face questions about all of this under oath. So you can scrap witness number one.
Witness number two is Beverly Nelson, who has offered a signed yearbook in evidence. This yearbook, which Moore supposedly signed at the Olde Hickory House in 1977, is the only actual piece of evidence anybody has suggested in this whole sorry saga. But there are a staggering number of problems with Ms. Nelson’s story, beginning with the fact that her own stepson believes she is lying through her teeth.
The Olde Hickory House was not in dark, secluded area as Ms. Nelson contends, but was located right next to a busy, four-lane highway, and had a brightly lit, wrap-around porch, much like a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Supposedly Moore drove her around to the parking lot behind the restaurant for his sexual assault, but the unanimous testimony of those who worked there at the time is that there was no parking lot at all behind the restaurant; in fact, there was barely enough room for a car to even turn around.
Further, the restaurant in those days did not close at 10 p.m. as Ms. Nelson claims, because a tire factory right next door released a shift right at 10 p.m. every night, and many of the workers came right across the parking lot for a late night snack at the Olde Hickory House before heading home.
Testimony from many restaurant employees and customers is that nobody remembers Roy Moore ever coming into the Old Hickory House, even one time. Nobody even remembers Ms. Nelson working there, which raises a whole set of additional questions.
Most notably, the signature is almost certainly a forgery, something that is evident even to an untrained eye. Whoever was responsible for this amateurish attempt mistook the abbreviation of the name of one of Roy Moore’s aides (“D.A.”) in the signature line as a reference to his role as “District Attorney.” But he, in fact, was not the D.A. - he was merely an Assistant D.A.
Lastly, Ms. Nelson claims that Moore tried to lock her in the car by reaching across her body for the lock. But such child-proof door locks were not installed in automobiles until sometime in the early ‘80s.
Ms. Nelson’s attorney Gloria Allred refuses to release the yearbook to be examined by independent handwriting experts. Thus there is a less-than-zero chance that Ms. Nelson is going to be willing to be questioned by anyone, let alone by sitting U.S. senators, regarding the multitudinous and inexplicable problems with her story.
So you can scratch witness number two.
Okay, Mitch, you‘re talking about an ethics investigation which you have no legal authority to conduct, and which will feature exactly zero witnesses and exactly zero evidence. There is no way that McConnell will go through with such a farce, as the one who would wind up being tried in the court of public opinion and found buffoonishly and astonishingly inept would be the majority leader himself. If he goes through with this farce, he will be seen as an agenda-driven hack, a fool who is wasting everybody’s time.
There will be no Senate ethics investigation into Roy Moore. If he wins, McConnell has already grudgingly admitted that they will have no option but to seat him, and there will not be a single, solitary thing Mitch can do about that. No, I’m afraid he’ll have to get used to addressing Roy Moore as “Senator Moore” until he chokes on it.