Trump-backed Pennsylvania Senate candidate Sean Parnell, accused of abuse, suspends his campaign after losing custody of kids

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  • Republican Senate candidate Sean Parnell in Pennsylvania, backed by former President Donald Trump, suspended his campaign on Monday after losing custody of his children.
  • Parnell’s estranged wife accused him of past domestic abuse, and a judge found the charges credible.
  • Parnell was a leading GOP candidate in the closely watched race to replace retired Sen. Pat Tommy, a Republican in a swing state that Democratic President Joe Biden won.

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Sean Parnell, the Republican who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in next year’s Pennsylvania US Senate race, suspended his campaign on Monday after losing custody of his children in a divorce marked by previous domestic abuse allegations.

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Parnell was a leading GOP candidate in a swing state closely watched race to replace Sen. Pat Tommy, a Republican that Democratic President Joe Biden won in 2020.

With a 50-50 split in the Senate, the winner of this open seat in 2022 could determine which party controls the Senate. Several top Democrats are also running for the seat, including Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman and US Rep.

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Trump’s support of Parnell’s campaign had pushed the former Army Ranger ahead of other Republican primary candidates, including Trump’s former ambassador to Denmark.

But Parnell’s campaign done on the rocks Ever since court records surfaced in September of protective orders given to Parnell’s estranged wife, Laurie Snell, in 2017 and 2018.

In a ruling on Monday, the judge overseeing Parnell’s divorce said he believed Snell’s allegations that Parnell strangled her and killed their children. The ruling awarded Snell full legal custody of the couple’s three children, while Parnell was given visitation rights, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

“I completely disagree with today’s decision and I am devastated by this decision,” Parnell said in a statement announcing the suspension of his campaign. “Nothing is more important to me than my kids, and I can’t continue a Senate campaign while I plan to ask the court to reconsider.”

A Trump spokeswoman, Taylor Budovich, tweeted that Parnell “spoke to w/ President Trump and informed him of his intention to suspend his campaign in view of the PA court’s decision.”

The Pennsylvania Senate race “remains a top priority for President Trump and rallying our movement behind the ’22 MAGA map—Best America’s first candidate—is critical,” Budovich wrote.

Despite Republicans losing the White House, House and Senate under his watch, Trump has emerged as the party’s undisputed kingmaker in the 2022 midterm.

But the impact of Parnell’s campaign underscores a potential threat to Trump and the Republican Party, thanks to his willingness to ignore serious allegations against his favorite candidates.

For Trump, what matters most is whether the candidate publicly admits to his fraudulent claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

This adherence to Trump’s lies about the election has emerged as the primary litmus test for candidates seeking the former president’s influential support.

So far in the 2022 midterm, Trump has endorsed at least three Republican candidates in the national race who have been accused of bullying or abusing women.

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Along with Parnell, Trump endorsed Georgia Senate candidate and former NFL star Herschelle Walker in the Georgia Senate race, another closely watched contest that could upset the balance of the Senate.

In 2008, Walker’s ex-wife Cindy Grossman Accused him of repeatedly threatening her with guns and knives during their marriage. At one point, Grossman said that Walker threatened to kill her while holding a razor around her neck.

Walker did not deny the allegations at the time, but said that in his later years he received treatment for previously undiagnosed mental disorders.

Trump has also endorsed Ohio congressional candidate Max Miller, a former senior Trump White House aide. Whom did Stephanie Grisham accuse?, a Trump press secretary, of slapping and strangling her during a fight. Miller denied the allegation.

Asked on Monday whether Trump regretted his decision to endorse Parnell, a spokesperson directed CNBC to Budovich’s tweets.

Trump himself is no stranger to campaigning under accusations of women. During his 2016 presidential campaign, more than a dozen women alleged that Trump sexually harassed, abused or assaulted them.

He denied them all, and insisted, as he still does today, that he was the victim of a smear campaign.

“I am the victim of one of the greatest political smear campaigns in my country’s history,” Trump said at a campaign rally in October 2016.

The comments came soon after Trump’s explosive tapes were made public in an “Access Hollywood” interview, on which he bragged about assaulting women.

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