By Thomas Phippen
At least four Democratic senators say Minnesota Sen. Al Franken should reverse his decision to resign his seat in light of sexual harassment allegations.
Franken announced that he would resign after members of his own party called for his resignation following accusations that he groped several women before and during his time as senator, and several members now think he should stay.
“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told Politico Sunday. Manchin doesn’t think Franken should have resigned in the first place. “I hope they have enough guts … and enough conscience and enough heart to say, ‘Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave.’”
Franken announced he would resign December 7, the day after several dozen senators of his own party asked him to step down. Prior to the public calls for his ouster, most Democrats suggested Franken should wait for the results of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior.
After Franken announced he would leave in speech at the Capitol, where he did not admit to any wrongdoing, multiple women who asked Franken to resign were visibly saddened and gave him hugs as he left the podium.
“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.
Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken in late November of groping and forcibly kissing her during USO tour in 2006, and several other women have since stepped forward to accuse Franken of grabbing them inappropriately, frequently while posing for pictures.
Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, who issued a statement asking Franken to step down, has since told the Minnesota Democrat that he regrets his decision, sources familiar with the conversation told Politico.
Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York, one of the women who asked Franken to resign, may still think Franken needs to go, according to sources close to her. “She has said, ‘He was entitled to a process, but he was not entitled to my silence,’” one person who spoke with Gillibrand told Politico.
Franken hasn’t said when he would resign, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has already announced that he would appoint Tina Smith to the seat.