Fox News host Sean Hannity walked back Tuesday night his original remarks insinuating that the five women accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault when they were teenagers might be lying.
“For me, the judge has 24 hours,” Hannity said. “You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies that I just showed.”
Hannity’s break with his original comments follows a cascade of Republican figures distancing themselves from the GOP candidate, including the Republican National Committee.
Hannity on Friday defended Moore after an interview where he stopped short of flatly denying allegations that he sexually assaulted teen girls when he was the Etowah County district attorney. “How do you know if it’s true? How do we — what’s true? What’s not true? How do you ascertain the truth? What happens when it’s 38 years later?” Hannity asked.
When asked in that interview if he ever dated teen girls, Moore replied, “Not generally, no.”
On Tuesday, Hannity altered his position.
“Between this interview that I did and the inconsistent answers. Between him saying ‘I never knew this girl,’ and then that yearbook comes out,” Hannity said. “You must remove any doubt. If you can’t do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.”
Hannity was referring to the disclosure of the 1977 high school yearbook of Brenda Young Nelson, the fifth woman to come forward accusing Moore of sexual assault. Despite Moore’s insistence that he does not know Nelson, her yearbook displays his signature; Nelson showed it during a press conference Monday in New York City with attorney Gloria Allred.
On Monday, Moore freshly denied the allegations, calling them “absolutely false” and a “political maneuver.”
Of the five women who have come forth, Leigh Corfman was the youngest at the time she says Moore pursued her, age 14.
Hannity’s defense of Moore spiraled into a bizarre feud with Keurig, the coffee machine company, which dropped their ads from the Hannity program after his Friday defense of Moore. The company sent a tweet Saturday announcing that it would be pulling its ads from Hannity’s show. But after videos and images of Hannity supporters destroying Keurig machines went viral, Keurig Chief Executive Bob Gamgort wrote an internal email apologizing for the manner in which it announced its decision and for appearing to “take sides.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he believes Moore should step out of the race. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who formerly held the Senate seat, said Monday during a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee that he has no reason not to believe Moore’s accusers. President Donald Trump has yet to make a statement on the matter.