Opinion writer

* Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites report that Roy Moore is…well…just read it:

Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Ala. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother, they both recall, when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore.

It was early 1979 and Moore — now the Republican nominee in Alabama for a U.S. Senate seat — was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney. He struck up a conversation, Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing. …

Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number, she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants, she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.

And yes, there’s more:

Aside from Corfman, three other women interviewed by The Washington Post in recent weeks say Moore pursued them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18 and he was in his early 30s, episodes they say they found flattering at the time, but troubling as they got older. None of the women say that Moore forced them into any sort of relationship or sexual contact.

Call me cynical, but I’m guessing some Alabama Republicans will react by saying, “It wasn’t his fault — those little temptresses probably seduced him.”

* Michael Scherer reports that some of Moore’s possible future colleagues aren’t too happy about this:

A growing chorus of Senate Republicans including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have called on Senate candidate Roy Moore to withdraw from a special election in Alabama in the wake of allegations that the former judge initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl nearly four decades ago.

“If these allegations are true, he must step aside,” McConnell said in a formal statement on behalf of all Republican senators.

Other Republican senators weighing in included Jeff Flake of Arizona, David Perdue of Georgia, John Thune of South Dakota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania.

But let’s be honest, they didn’t like Moore in the first place.

* Via Seung Min Kim, John McCain didn’t mince words about the Moore claims: “The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside.”

* Daniel Dale’s thread of tweets recounting his interviews with two local Republican Party chairs in Alabama about the Moore allegations are an absolute must read.

* By the way, it looks like Republicans may be stuck with Moore:

Some absentee ballots have already been sent to voters, which appears to make it impossible to install someone in place of Moore on the Republican Party line. The election is on Dec. 12. …

Though Republicans have begun looking into options to replace Moore, Alabama law requires the candidate roster on the ballot to be set 74 days before an election. If Moore does withdraw, however, any votes cast for him would not count. …

Republicans have suggested that GOP Sen. Luther Strange, the appointed senator who lost to Moore in the special primary, could put himself forward as a write-in candidate. State law bars a candidate who lost in a primary from appearing on the general election ballot as an independent, but it does not appear to forbid a write-in campaign.

There will be tremendous pressure on Moore to step aside and let Strange try to run a write-in campaign on his own. But Moore doesn’t seem like the kind of fellow who would admit to wrongdoing and/or go quietly, does he? — gs

* Alex Roarty reports that the big Democratic gains in the Virginia House of Delegates have given Democrats a new blueprint against Trump:

Joshua Ulibarri, the pollster for Democratic House of Delegate candidates in Virginia, said their success was vindication of a strategy that focused not on Trump’s personality — as many Democrats do — but his agenda…

Ulibarri said now that he’s in office with a record to exploit, his Democratic candidates avoided Trump’s personality altogether.

“That’s one of our big lessons here is how to get voters to vote against Trump,” Ulibarri said. “It’s not based on personality and image.”

But it doesn’t hurt that people hate him.

* Nick Miroff reports that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke to pressure her into expelling tens of thousands of Hondurans living legally in the United States.

* Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar reports that despite the Trump administration’s sabotage efforts, 600,000 people signed up for health coverage in the first week of open enrollment.

* Ken Dilanian and Jonathan Allen report that longtime Trump body man Keith Schiller told Congress that when he was in Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant, the Russians offered to send “five women” to Trump’s hotel room, but Schiller told them not to.

* Astead Herndon reports that even Republicans are getting nervous about the electoral effectiveness of appeals to white nationalism.

* At The Week, I argued that the Virginia results show just how rigged in favor of Republicans our elections really are.

* And Michael Grunwald takes stock of just how enthusiastically Trump has embraced the swamp of Washington, and made it even swampier.