Supporters of former Alabama Supreme Court Justice and U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore offered the attorney of a woman who accused Moore of sexual misconduct $10,000 to drop the woman as a client and say publicly that he doubted the voracity of her claims. The statement would be given to the news outlet Breitbart.com which was run by one of Moore’s most vocal supporters at the time, Steve Bannon, according to the Attorney.
Eddie Sexton was representing Leigh Corfman, who says Moore initiated a romantic relationship with her when she was 14 years old. Several other women came forward with similar stories, all alleging that Moore pursued relationships with them when they were in their teens. At the time, in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, Moore was in his thirties and an assistant district attorney.
Sexton says he was also offered meetings with Bannon himself, along with others in Washington D.C. Moore was picked by Bannon as a candidate that would initiate his self-declared war on the Republican establishment. Bannon’s goal was to primary every incumbent Republican Senator running for reelection in 2018 for what he deemed to be their insufficient loyalty to President Trump and his agenda.
His number one target was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whom Bannon accused of trying to derail President Trump’s agenda from the days of the presidential transition. Bannon’s goal, he would say at the time, was two-fold: elect candidates to the Senate who would support repealing the filibuster, which requires sixty votes to pass legislation; and who would vote against McConnell as Majority Leader.
Moore at the time was running against the Attorney General of Alabama, Luther Strange. Strange was the handpicked candidate of McConnell who backed him with millions of dollars of contributions from friendly political action committees. Bannon characterization of the race as a battle between the establishment and the grassroots propelled Moore to an unlikely victory over Strange in the Republican primary in September.
Moore’s expected victory against the Democrat Doug Jones in the general election in December was to be Bannon’s opening salvo in his war. When the accusations from Corfman and the others came to light, it upended the race. Jones wound up winning a close election becoming the first Democrat to be elected Senator from Alabama since 1992.
Bannon took heavy blame for failing to properly vet Moore.
The two men who made the offer to Sexton spoke of the desire on the part of the people backing them to “cloud” the accusations of the women speaking out against Moore. “What they’re saying, all they want to do is cloud something,” said one of the men, Gary Lantrip, in a phone call that was recorded by Sexton. “They said if they cloud, like, two of them, then that’s all they need.”
Lantrip mentioned “the ten [pause] dollars,” shorthand for the $10,000, Sexton said, in one of the calls, as well as potential meetings in D.C. “We got some chance to do something, make some quick little-bitty for you … and then, on down the line, we can go to D.C.,” he said.
Both Lantrip and another man, Bert Davi, deny wrongdoing. They say their inquiries concerned only Sexton making a statement. Sexton would eventually stop helping Corfman with the case after his partner expressed concern over being involved in such a high-profile political case. He and his partner specialize in product liability cases.
In a statement, Moore said that neither he, “nor anyone else in the campaign offered anyone money to say something untrue, nor did I or anyone else authorize someone else to do such a thing.”
Breitbart News, in acknowledging that two of its reporters met with Sexton during the time the negotiations were ongoing, denied involvement in anything untoward. “At no time did Boyle or Klein hear any mention of money being offered or other promises made to Mr. Sexton in return for ending his representation of Ms. Corfman,” a statement issued by the firm said. “The reporters did not participate in crafting any statement for Mr. Sexton.”
Sexton eventually contacted the FBI and conveyed the details of the situation with an executive assistant U.S. attorney by the name of Robert Posey. A few days before the election, Posey responded. “We don’t find any applicable criminal provision in federal election law,” he wrote.