Report: Senators Starting to Regret Demanding Franken Resign

Posted: Dec 18, 2017 12:30 PM
Report: Senators Starting to Regret Demanding Franken Resign

File this one under "hmmmmm": at least four senators are now saying that Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) shouldn't resign, and that perhaps things moved too fast. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that it was "hypocritical" to essentially force Franken out after eight women came forward to share stories of sexual misconduct.

Speaking on a POLITICO podcast, Manchin said it was "atrocious" that his Senate colleagues had issued statements saying Franken should step down, yet would warmly embrace him on the Senate floor following his actual resignation speech. The day before he announced his resignation, 32 Democrats in the Senate publicly called for him to quit. Manchin was not one of these senators. 

“The most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being — and then have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech and go over and hug him? That’s hypocrisy at the highest level I’ve ever seen in my life. Made me sick,” Manchin said.

He added, “Here’s a man, that all he said [was], ‘Take me through the Ethics Committee. I will live by whatever decision and I will walk away thinking about this opportunity I’ve had while I was here. But you find out if I’m a predator.’”

According to the POLITICO piece, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), has told Franken in private that he regrets joining the pile-on calling for Franken to quit. An anonymous third senator quoted in the article says that things went too fast and that people "acted prematurely," and two others said that they "felt rushed" to issue statements calling for Franken to resign. 

“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” said a third senator who has also called for the resignation, and has since expressed regret directly to Franken. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.” The senator asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue among Democrats.

Two of the senators who issued resignation calls told POLITICO they felt rushed to weigh in, as they were focused on hearings and other meetings and pressure on Franken mounted. In retrospect they said they signed off on statements without the appropriate care and thought.

Franken did not provide a timetable on his resignation, but Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) has already appointed a replacement. 

This is certainly interesting. While the tide against Franken certainly did move very fast, he had multiple credible accusations against him--including one with a photograph and one with a seven-year-old Facebook comment alleging "molestation" when a picture was taken. This isn't behavior becoming of a senator. The backpedaling is an odd development.

For what it's worth, Franken still says he plans on exiting Congress some time in January.