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Roy Moore's sexual assault allegations cloud Alabama special Senate election

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Before Roy Moore’s sexual assault allegations came to light, the Republican senate candidate was already a polarizing figure.

Moore has argued that Muslims shouldn’t be able to serve in Congress; he promoted the conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.; and he said in a 2005 interview that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal.

Then, slightly a month before the special election, the Washington Post released a bombshell report of allegations that Moore had inappropriate sexual conduct with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. One woman alleged that Moore had her touch him in private areas when she was just 14.

After the initial report, additional women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

Moore staunchly denied the accusations, but even still, many leading Republicans called on him to step aside from the campaign. However, others – including President Trump and Steve Bannon – stood by Moore.

The former judge lost the Alabama Senate election earlier this month to Democrat Doug Jones, but he thus far has refused to concede.

He filed a complaint Wednesday that claimed Jones won due to “voter fraud.” His campaign said the complaint would delay the certification of Jones as Alabama’s senator until “a thorough investigation of potential election fraud, that improperly altered the outcome of this election, is conducted.”

Read on for a look at the special Senate election held earlier in December to replace Jeff Sessions.

Doug Jones, Democrat

A former U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration, Jones beat out seven other Democrats to secure the party’s nomination. And he eventually became the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate in Alabama since 1992.

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2017, file photo, candidate Doug Jones chats with constituents before a Democratic Senate candidate forum at the Princess Theatre in Decatur, Ala. Jones is facing Michael Hansen , who leads an environmental group, in the Democrat primary on Tuesday, Aug. 15. . (Jeronimo Nisa /The Decatur Daily via AP, File)

Senate candidate Doug Jones chats with constituents before a forum in Decatur, Ala.  (AP Photo/Jeronimo Nisa)

Jones, 63, is perhaps best known for successfully prosecuting two members of the Ku Klux Klan accused of bombing a Birmingham church in 1963 that killed four young girls.

“I may have the honor of serving Alabama as your senator, but the most important thing I have done is prosecuting those klansmen who killed 4 little girls at 16th St Baptist Church,” Jones said in a November tweet.

Because of his resume, Steven Taylor, a political science professor at Alabama’s Troy University, said Jones is considered to be a “quality candidate” in the political science world. He’s “someone who is credible and, therefore, competitive,” Taylor told Fox News.

HERE ARE ALL OF THE REPUBLICANS WHO HAVE COME OUT AGAINST ROY MOORE

“We’ve not seen a lot of quality Democratic candidates for Senate because Sen. [Richard] Shelby and Sen. Sessions, they were so strongly ensconced in their positions that the Democratic nominee was most often a more fringe candidate and not taken very seriously,” Taylor said. “Jones doesn’t fall in that category – he has a background as a prosecutor, he has linkage to Civil Rights prosecution for the bombers in Birmingham. This makes him a more serious and significant candidate.”

Openly critical of Trump, Jones promised to fight for pro-abortion policies, tackling student loan debt and raising the minimum wage.

Even prior to the allegations of Moore groping a teenage girl, Democrats reportedly felt optimistic about Jones’ chances of winning in a historically red state. And after the allegations, some polls – such as a Fox News poll conducted days before the election – had Jones in the lead.

While Jones initially stayed away from the accusations against Moore, the Democratic candidate came out swinging during a speech the week before the election.

“I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate,” Jones said.

Jones was endorsed by prominent Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. In addition, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., campaigned for Jones, as did former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. 

Jones also received a surprising financial backing from a Senate Republican – Jeff Flake. The Arizona senator tweeted a photo of a check made out to Jones with the subject line saying, “Country over Party.”

And Trump, although he endorsed Moore, tweeted his congratulations to Jones.

“Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win,” Trump said. “The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”

Prior to the election, Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels, D, encouraged Jones to “stay the course” and not get bogged down with the allegations against Moore.

“Getting involved in the allegations, that doesn’t bring jobs to Alabama. That doesn’t bring opportunity or economic prosperity to our state. That doesn’t help education or health care. It doesn’t help our infrastructure,” Daniels told Fox News. “Why would he focus on that?”

Daniels also praised Jones for being “a fighter for his entire career.” He said Jones would bring “unity and civility” to the Senate and would work with lawmakers across the aisle to better Alabama.

Roy Moore, Republican

Called the “Ayatollah of Alabama” by critics who believe he too closely marries his political and judicial responsibilities with his religious beliefs, Judge Roy Moore emerged as the leader of the Republicans vying for the open Senate seat. In a special primary election earlier this year, Moore defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange who was tapped to fill the position when then-Sen. Jeff Sessions became the U.S. attorney general.

Former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore during his election party, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. Moore won the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, defeating an appointed incumbent backed by President Donald Trump and allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Judge Roy Moore speaks to supporters after beating Sen. Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate special election.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

In the primary, Moore, 70, garnered the support of conservative darlings, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson. Trump initially backed Strange but would eventually throw his weight behind Moore. Trump’s former adviser, Steve Bannon, also campaigned for Moore.

Moore’s political past is mired in controversy, which he used to his advantage during the primary election. He was twice removed from Alabama’s Supreme Court. The first time, he was dismissed when he refused to move a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument from the statehouse; he was permanently suspended in 2016 after he instructed probate judges to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court incidents worked in his favor given that Alabamians are generally very conservative and religious, Taylor said. And his refusal to bend to the federal government is in line with a “tradition” set in the state by the former longtime pro-segregationist Gov. George Wallace, he said.

“He’s very outspoken in a variety of ways,” Taylor said of Moore. “He’s a little more reflective of those more populist candidates we’ve seen of late, including the president.”

Prior to the election, Taylor thought it possible that voters in the deep red state of Alabama could look the other way.

“In some ways, that Roy Moore has a very strong religious element to his politics is not substantially out of the mainstream for the state,” Taylor said.

“He’s very outspoken in a variety of ways.”

– Dr. Steven Taylor, Troy University political science professor

After Moore’s primary victory, Trump called him a “really great guy who ran a fantastic race.” Many Trump supporters turned out to campaign for Moore during the primary, despite the president’s backing of a different candidate.

Moore’s judicial past took a backseat, however, when the Washington Post reported that four women accused Moore of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.

Leigh Corfman, now 58, alleged that Moore first approached her in a courtroom in 1979 when she was 14 years old. Eventually, Moore took her to his house, took off her shirt and pants, touched her private parts and guided her hand to his underwear, she said. The two did not have sexual intercourse, and he took her home when she asked, Corfman said.

After the Washington Post’s initial report, several more women accused Moore of being sexually inappropriate. 

Moore vehemently denied the accusations, calling them “baseless” and “the very definition of fake news.”

“It seems that in the political arena, to say that something is not true is simply not good enough. So let me be clear. I have never provided alcohol to minors, and I have never engaged in sexual misconduct,” Moore said in a statement provided to Fox News.

He also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he “generally” didn’t date women who were teenagers when he was in his 30s and would not date someone without her mother’s permission. Moore admitted it’s possible that he did go on dates with one of the accusers in the Washington Post report who said she was 17 when Moore kissed her.

That line of defense was not “as strident or strong as one might expect,” Taylor said. 

Despite numerous Republican leaders backing away from Moore, Trump tweeted on Dec. 12 – Election Day – that Moore “will always vote for us.”

“The people of Alabama will do the right thing,” Trump tweeted while encouraging his followers to vote for Moore. 

But following Moore’s loss, the president noted that he originally endorsed Strange because he knew that Moore “will not be able to win the General Election.”

“I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him,” Trump said.

And on Dec. 23, Trump again said on Twitter that he “said [Moore] would lose in Alabama” and touted his initial support of Strange.

A week before the election, the Republican National Committee began to support Moore again, just three weeks after it pulled its financial support for the beleaguered candidate. 

But despite his loss, Moore hasn’t given up. He filed an election complaint on Dec. 27, that said alleged “voter fraud” was so prevalent, it “improperly altered the outcome of this election.” The complaint calls for a “thorough investigation” and is meant to block the certification of Jones until a probe is completed, Moore’s campaign said.

According to the election results from earlier in December, Moore lost to Jones by a margin of 21,000 votes.

If Moore had won, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he would “immediately have an issue with the Ethics Committee.”

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

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Doug Jones certified as winner of Alabama Senate race

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Democrat Doug Jones was certified Thursday by Alabama’s Secretary of State as the winner of the state’s Senate race, less than an hour after a judge rejected Republican nominee Roy Moore’s last-ditch attempt to challenge the election.

Earlier Thursday, Moore’s campaign alleged potential election fraud and asked a circuit judge for a restraining order to stop Alabama’s canvassing board from certifying Jones’ victory.

A judge then denied the request, leading Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to certify Jones’ victory.

Jones, who will be sworn in Jan. 3, celebrated the certification and vowed to be “an independent voice” for Alabama.

“I am looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year,” Jones said in a statement. “As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation.”

DOUG JONES WINS IN MAJOR UPSET, ROY MOORE WON’T YET CONCEDE

Jones won more than 20,000 votes than Moore in the Dec. 12 election, becoming the first Democrat to win election to the Senate from the deeply conservative state in 25 years.

A Democrat winning the special election for the seat to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions was seen as just a remote possibility several months ago.

But Jones, a Birmingham attorney famous for prosecuting the KKK, caught a break after Moore was overwhelmed in recent weeks with multiple allegations of past sexual misconduct. Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, faced accusations he pursued romantic relationships with teenage girls while he was in his thirties.

He has denied the claims.

Since the election, Moore has refused to concede.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the wide-ranging complaint that he believed there were irregularities during the election, including that voters may have been brought in from other states. He attached a statement from a poll worker that she had noticed licenses from Georgia and North Carolina as people signed in to vote.

The complaint also noted the higher-than-expected turnout in the race, particularly in Jefferson County, and said Moore’s numbers were suspiciously lower than straight-ticket Republican voting in about 20 Jefferson County precincts. The complaint asked for a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

Merrill said he has so far not found any evidence of voter fraud, but he has said that his office will investigate any complaint Moore submits.

Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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Bumped United passenger fires back at Rep. Jackson Lee's racism charge, airline

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A United passenger whose first-class seat on a recent flight from Houston to D.C. was given to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is firing back at the Democratic congresswoman’s accusations of racism – while challenging the airline’s account of the incident.

Jean-Marie Simon, an attorney and private school teacher, became the latest face of airline passenger woes when she detailed on Facebook and later to the news media how she lost her seat to the Texas lawmaker. 

But despite a statement from United seeking to explain the switch-out, she’s not giving up the fight. And the congresswoman’s response – essentially claiming Simon made a scene because Jackson Lee, as an African-American woman, is an “easy target” – did not calm the waters. 

Simon, in an interview with Fox News, rejected the racism allegation.

“That could have been Donald Duck in my seat,” Simon, a Democrat, told Fox News on Thursday. “I could not see who had boarded the flight. I didn’t even know who she was.”

plane

Jean-Marie Simon, left, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.  (Facebook)

Simon originally accused United of bumping her from her first-class seat on a Dec. 18 flight in order to accommodate the Texas congresswoman. 

At first, Simon didn’t know who was in her seat as she argued at the gate. United eventually gave her a $500 voucher and reseated her in the economy plus section. In her original Facebook post, Simon said another Texas congressman then informed her a fellow member of the delegation was in her seat, and “regularly does this” to passengers. 

‘I could not see who had boarded the flight. I didn’t even know who she was.’

– United passenger Jean-Marie Simon, responding to Rep. Jackson Lee’s racism claim

Simon proceeded to take a photo of Jackson Lee, have a tense encounter with a flight attendant who allegedly threatened to remove her — and has been battling with the airline ever since she got home. 

On one front, United claims Simon lost her seat because she canceled her flight via the app (which she denies). And on another, Jackson Lee piled on this week by reissuing her statement chalking up Simon’s discontent to racial animus. 

“Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice,” she wrote. “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.” 

Simon is focusing her energy mostly on dealing with United, not Jackson Lee, but told Fox News, “The only way she is relevant is that she has a documented history of demanding first-class service.” 

Asked for comment, Jackson Lee spokesman Rucks Russell said in a statement: “The Congresswoman regrets any inconvenience that her travel may have caused to any passenger, however the issue in question involves the passenger and United Airlines.” 

WOMAN CLAIMS TEXAS REP TOOK HER AIRLINE SEAT

The 63-year-old passenger says her beef mostly is with United and how they treated her. She also suggested the airline is trying to age-shame her.  

“I’m not some AARP grandmother who doesn’t know how to use a phone,” she said. “I know how to cancel a flight and I did not cancel this flight.”  

It’s still not entirely clear what happened that day. 

Simon used 140,000 frequent flyer miles on Dec. 3 to purchase her first-class ticket from Washington, D.C., to Guatemala and back. On her way home, she had a layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Simon said the attendant scanned her ticket but her reservation had been removed from the system. At that point, the member of Congress already was in first class, and Simon eventually got the economy plus seat. 

United later attributed the incident to an app cancellation by Simon. 

The official statement from the airline said they “thoroughly” examined their electronic records and “found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app.”

The statement continued, “As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade. We were able to provide this customer a seat on the same flight in economy plus.” 

Simon rejects the explanation. 

“Why would I ever cancel the second segment?” Simon said Thursday. “United furnished no proof that I canceled it. And why didn’t I reserve another fight?”

Though United credited her 140,000 miles, what Simon really wants is an apology from the company’s top brass.  

She tweeted that a “low level employee at a call center” said sorry over the phone but that he hadn’t even been briefed on the details of her complaint.

She also took to Facebook on Wednesday asking where’s the proof she canceled her flight. 

Asked Thursday about the discrepancies between United’s and Simon’s accounts, a United official told Fox News that their records clearly show the flight leg was canceled via the app – and not by a gate agent or other third party.

The official said their internal coding reflects the flight was canceled roughly a half-hour before the original take-off time, after it was clear the flight would be delayed over an hour. The congresswoman was then tapped for the seat because she was at the top of the upgrade list thanks to her global services status, the official said.

Though Simon adamantly denies she canceled her flight, the official said it’s possible this could have been done accidentally.

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Trump slams China over reported North Korea oil sales: 'Caught RED HANDED'

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President Trump slammed China on Thursday over the country’s reported illegal oil sales to North Korea, saying they’ve been caught “RED HANDED” and warning such incidents could diminish the odds of a “friendly solution” for Pyongyang.

“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump tweeted, while on a holiday break in Florida.

U.S. spy satellites reportedly captured photos of Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korean boats some 30 times since October. 

REPORT: CHINA SPOTTED ILLEGALLY SELLING OIL TO N. KOREA

Satellite images released by the U.S. Department of Treasury appeared to show vessels from both countries illegally trading oil in the West Sea, The Chosun Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing South Korean government sources.

ChineseOilShips

U.S. spy satellites have captured images of what appears to be Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korean boats.  (U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control)

North Korea was barred in September by the United Nations Security Council from importing natural gas and had its crude oil imports capped in response to Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program.

The U.S. Treasury in November also sanctioned North Korea’s Maritime Administration and its transport ministry, in addition to six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels, in an effort to block the rogue regime’s transportation networks.

The satellite images appear to identify the ships. One of them — Rye Song Gang 1, seen “connected to a Chinese vessel” — was included in the Nov. 21 sanctions as a vessel of Korea Kumbyol Trading Company possibly transferring oil to evade sanctions.

While Russia exports some oil to North Korea, China is the main source of oil for the rogue nation, according to Reuters. However, the country’s records reportedly showed it exported no oil products to the North during the month of November. It was reportedly the second consecutive month China didn’t export diesel or gasoline to North Korea.

NORTH KOREA CALLS UN SANCTIONS ‘AN ACT OF WAR,’ ‘RIGGED UP BY THE US’

A government source told the South Korean newspaper that, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information following Chosun’s report, but said “the Chinese government has been completely and strictly enforcing Security Council resolutions” aimed at discouraging North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.

Fox News’ Nicolle Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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