A few days later, a growing number of Senate Republicans say he should step aside no matter what. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chair of Senate Republicans' campaign arm, even said Monday that Moore should be expelled from the Senate if he refuses to withdraw and he wins.
What changed between Thursday, when the news broke, and now? Moore himself. Republicans in Washington never stood by Moore. But they were willing to give him a chance to defend himself. When he did, they didn't like what they heard.
Moore originally called the whole story “fake news.” But he didn't offer specific denials, while his accusers offered names, places and dates that Post reporters corroborated in two dozen other interviews. Then Moore went on to suggest that some parts of the story could be accurate.
Moore has consistently denied inappropriately touching a woman when she was 14 years old. But he hasn't ruled out that he dated teenagers when he was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Alabama — only that he couldn't remember. He even pulled out comments used in the story to defend himself, like the fact that one girl's mother encouraged her to go out with Moore.
“I'm not going to dispute anything but I don't remember anything like that,” Moore told Fox News's Sean Hannity in an interview Friday about dating women half his age.
Shortly after that interview Friday, Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Steve Daines (Mont.) all withdrew their endorsements of Moore.
Sen. Bob Corker (R- Tenn.), who never endorsed Moore, called for him to step down.
And on Sunday, Sens. Tim Scott (S.C.) and Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) both indicated that they believed the women over Moore.
“The denial was not as strong as the allegation,” Scott said Sunday on CNN.
“We'll probably never know for sure exactly what happened. But from my point of view, you know, I have to say, I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial,” Toomey said on NBC. “I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside.”
As Corker hinted at, Republicans never wanted Moore — an outspoken evangelical Christian who got kicked off Alabama's top court twice — in the Senate, even before these allegations. But they hesitated to ditch him entirely because losing Alabama to a Democrat could imperil Senate Republicans' majority and chances to pass tax reform.
Now that Moore hasn't ruled out dating teenage girls, defending Moore has become indefensible.
Another potential fault line for Washington Republicans is what their political enemy, Stephen K. Bannon, is doing in all this. Bannon sent his conservative blog's reporters to Alabama to try to disprove the allegations and bolster Moore. They have yet to come up with anything, but they sure are being loud about it.
McConnell's camp blames Bannon's support for getting Moore this far in the race.
“Stephen K. Bannon is responsible,” Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff, told The Post's Robert Costa hours after the allegations broke.
So now that Bannon's down there, poking and prodding and trying to disprove these women's stories, it was perhaps a natural battle line to draw for McConnell to back up the women Bannon is trying to discredit.
The next question is whether any of this will affect who becomes Alabama's next U.S. senator. The answer is: Not likely. No matter how much Republicans in Washington want him gone — and are now willing to say so publicly — they can't force him to go. As The Post's Paul Kane reports:
The tools available to [McConnell] and other Washington figures to drive Moore out of the race either no longer exist or have been rendered impotent by the rise of a new political structure. From the media to big corporations to Congress, public distrust has grown across the board and made it easier for outlier figures such as Moore to thumb their nose at the purported leaders.
It's entirely possible that Washington Republicans' condemnations of Moore could help him get elected.
“I'm not sure if that rural vote, which is 99.99 percent of Alabama, would leave him under almost any circumstances,” said Leada Gore, an AL.com political reporter who's covered the state for 25 years. “I don't know what you'd have to do.”
Correction: An updated version of this post incorrectly said Sen. Bob Corker endorsed Roy Moore. Corker never endorsed Moore, and after these allegations, he made clear that he doesn't think Moore should be seated in the Senate.