Roy Moore’s deceit is disqualifying.

Roy Moore’s Deceit Is Disqualifying

Roy Moore’s Deceit Is Disqualifying

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Dec. 11 2017 7:59 PM

The Depth of Roy Moore’s Deceit

The Alabama Senate candidate is unfit to be a United States senator.

Republican candidate for Senate Roy Moore speaks during a campaign event at Oak Hollow Farm on Dec. 5 in Fairhope, Alabama.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Sunday, Roy Moore wrapped up his campaign with another volley of falsehoods. In an interview with The Voice of Alabama Politics, he denied knowing any of the nine female accusers shown in a campaign ad by his opponent, Doug Jones. At this point, anyone who still trusts Moore’s denials probably can’t be swayed. But for those who are on the fence—and for senators who must decide whether to investigate Moore, should he win Tuesday’s election—it’s important to be clear about the extent of Moore’s deceit.

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

1. Moore has changed his story. On Nov. 10, a day after the Washington Post reported the first accusations against him, Moore told Sean Hannity that he might have dated teenagers (“not generally,” said Moore), that he was familiar with two of the women quoted in the article, and that he recalled one, Debbie Gibson, in particular. “I knew her as a friend,” said Moore. “If we did go on dates, then we did. But I do not remember that.” But when those answers unnerved Hannity and others, Moore stiffened his denials. In late November, Moore began to assert routinely: “I do not know any of these women.” On Sunday, he again denied knowing any of the nine accusers pictured in Jones’ ad. “I did not recognize any of those people,” said Moore. “I did not know them.”


2. Moore has contradicted at least three corroborating witnesses. He has repeatedly denied that he ever met Leigh Corfman, who accuses him of seducing her when she was 14 and he was 32. Moore repeated that denial on Sunday, saying he “did not know” her and had “no encounter” with her. But Corfman’s mother says she was present when her daughter met Moore. Strike one.

Wendy Miller says Moore flirted with her when she was 14 and asked her out when she was 16. When Moore insists that he didn’t know any of the girls pictured in Jones’ ad, he’s rejecting Miller’s account. But Miller’s mother says she, too, was present when Moore hit on her daughter. Strike two.

Moore’s categorical denial also extends to Gena Richardson, who says Moore pursued her romantically when she was working at a department store at age 17 or 18. Richardson says that Moore, who was then an assistant district attorney, phoned the office at her high school and had her pulled out of class so he could ask her out. Kayla McLaughlin, who worked at the same store, says she saw Moore pursue Richardson. Strike three.

3. Moore has contradicted his own writing on two documents. On Sunday, Moore repeated that he didn’t know and had never met Beverly Nelson, who has accused him of forcibly groping her when she was 16. Moore’s denial doesn’t square with a note he wrote in Moore’s 1977 high school yearbook: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas.’ Love, Roy Moore.”


The yearbook has become a subject of dispute, but it doesn’t stand alone. Gibson, another one of the women Moore claims not to know, has a high school graduation card from him. “Happy graduation Debbie,” it says. “I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you’ll be a success in anything you do. Roy.” The card has been preserved in a scrapbook that includes Gibson’s contemporaneous note about a date with Moore when she was 17.

A forensic examiner hired by Nelson’s attorney, Gloria Allred, has compared the yearbook inscription and the graduation card to known samples of Moore’s writing. The examiner, Arthur T. Anthony, found “excellent and significant agreement” among all the samples, based on “relative size, slant, skill level, letter designs, beginning or initial strokes, ending or terminal strokes, pressure patterns, height relationships between letters and punctuation.” Anthony also noted that the inscription and the card were “freely and rapidly written,” a hallmark of authenticity. Allred has offered to submit the yearbook for independent examination as part of a Senate investigation.

4. Moore has changed his story about the yearbook. After seeing images of the yearbook, Moore initially told Hannity that he saw signs of “tampering” with the inscription. Moore’s attorney questioned whether “everything written in that yearbook was written by Roy Moore.” Both men distinguished the notes written after Moore’s signature—the letters “D.A.” and the ostensible place and date of the inscription—from the inscription itself, which, by subtraction, they implied Moore had written. On Friday, Nelson confirmed that Moore had written the inscription but that she had added the notes. Moore’s campaign responded by accusing her of “forgery” and suggesting that she may have written the inscription itself. As with Moore’s statements about knowing his accusers, he has shifted from partial acknowledgment to complete denial.

5. Moore has falsely implied that his accusers made TV ads against him. On Nov. 29, Moore suggested that his accusers couldn’t be genuine victims, because they had come forward “to appear in public political advertisements” against him. That wasn’t true: The Jones campaign, in its ad, had used pictures from articles published about the women. But Moore has refused to correct himself. On Sunday, he repeated that the accusers had discredited their putative innocence by choosing to “appear on a political advertisement.” This is a demonstrable falsehood independent of the underlying allegations. Two weeks after Moore first said it, this line can no longer be excused as an error. It’s part of a smear campaign.

Moore’s strategy is to pick at the stories of one or two accusers, find details that can be challenged, and conclude that none of the women can be trusted. His favorite target is Nelson, since she failed to say upfront that she had written the notes below his inscription. At a press conference on Friday, Moore’s attorney advised voters to dismiss her story, noting that under Alabama jury instructions, “If you believe that a witness has lied in anything, you can disregard everything they’ve said.”

That’s true. But the same rule applies to Moore. We can’t be sure exactly what happened in any particular incident 40 years ago, but from the evidence before us, we can be certain of one thing: During the past month, Roy Moore has lied. He has done so repeatedly and without compunction. He has slandered women. He is unfit to be a United States senator.

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