Breaking: CNN, NBC report that Franken’s out; Liveblog: Franken denies allegations; attacks Trump, Moore; resignation in “weeks”; Final question: Will Franken actually leave?
Update: Karol Markowicz deserves the final word on Franken’s legacy as defined by this speech:
Update: Note that Franken didn’t actually resign his office today, but pledged to do so in “coming weeks.” Will he actually resign if, say, Roy Moore gets elected on Tuesday? It’s almost impossible to walk back a resignation pledge, but Franken sounded like an angry, bitter man this morning. On the other hand, his Minnesota colleague considered it a done deal:
I suspect Franken just wants to make his exit as quiet as possible. Probably.
Update: If Senate Democrats were expecting contrition, they went away disappointed. Franken’s angry, denial-filled speech implicitly indicts his colleagues for their betrayal. They’re not going to call this one a win, and Franken’s speech might cause them more problems with their progressive base than Franken’s presence would have done with their feminist base. If Senate Dems planned to seize a moral high ground, Franken undercut it significantly.
Update: I was working on this argument for minutes, and Larry O’Connor … just … tweeted it out:
Update: Did Franken really cite his work on bullying while that Tweeden photo torpedoes his political career? Please.
Update: Seth Mandel hits the nail on the head:
Update: He’s resigning while attacking Donald Trump and Roy Moore, putting the date several weeks out. “I can’t pursue the Ethics Committee process and remain an effective voice” for Minnesota voters.
Update: Franken starts off the speech by saying, “Some of the allegations simply aren’t true.” His memory of others is “different,” Franken claimed. That’s been his line all along.
Original post follows:
In just a few minutes, Al Franken will appear in the well of the Senate to announce his decision about whether to stay or go. CNN and NBC report that Franken will indeed resign and make this his final appearance in the Senate:
Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota is resigning following allegations that he touched women inappropriately, sources told CNN Thursday.
Franken’s office said he is scheduled to speak at 11:45 a.m. ET.
Not a great shock, if true, although it still prompts questions about why he’s making a Senate speech to resign. Having almost all of your colleagues in the caucus declare you persona non grata has to be demoralizing. One last stand for due process apparently isn’t worth the shunning Franken will have to endure.
Franken came under considerable pressure back home to step down, too. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s editorial board, which had twice suggested that Franken think about resigning, escalated that to a demand last night:
If this is to be an actual turning point in our culture, there must be real and lasting consequences to behaviors that never should have been accepted. That these incidents came so late in Franken’s life should make him all the more accountable. Instead, he has mostly offered hollow apologies that failed to acknowledge what happened.
Yes, Franken could redouble his efforts in the Senate. He has tried, in recent days, to reclaim his voice on important national issues. But it is, as we feared, drowned out by the loud and persistent string of accusations — from a fellow USO entertainer to autograph-seekers at the Minnesota State Fair to now a political aide of his own party who was in her mid-20s when she said Franken pursued her after her boss had left a recording of his radio show in 2006, and attempted to force a kiss on her. …
The Star Tribune Editorial Board now adds its voice to those asking Franken to step down immediately.
His pal Bernie Sanders didn’t cut Franken any slack in the lead-up, but also didn’t do himself any favors either. Sanders pressed Franken to resign, and called for a “cultural revolution” to follow:
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, says the U.S. needs a “cultural revolution” to change the way women are treated, reiterating his call for the resignation of, D-Minnesota, over new sexual misconduct allegations. He spoke about why he now believes Franken should step down on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday.
Sanders joined thefrom the Senate after previously saying it should be up to the people of Minnesota to decide his fate. Asked about his change of heart, Sanders said, “I think the additional evidence that came forward but I think what we have got to recognize as a nation, that this is a problem impacting not only high profile men.”
“What I worry about right now as I speak is that in restaurants, in offices all over this country where you have bosses that are not famous, there is harassment, women are being intimidated, and we need a cultural revolution in this country,” he said.
The term “cultural revolution” hearkens back to Mao Zedong’s infamous purge of intellectuals in communist China. Mao closed schools and rallied the students into the Red Guard to enforce his vision for China. As many as a million people were killed in the years that followed as Mao and his regime cracked down on intellectuals and dissidents, as well as any party officials who didn’t toe the line.
That might be something to remember when it comes to demanding resignations from elected officials. Due process does exist in the Senate, flawed as it might be, but those flaws can be corrected by either the Ethics Committee or the Senate as a whole if it has the will to provide real accountability. Thus far the problem is that we’ve seen a lot of talk about accountability, but most of the action has gone into protecting members in both chambers of Congress.