No word yet on why but Roll Call is whispering about allegations of “inappropriate behavior.” I posted this tweet earlier but it’s worth re-upping:
— Michael Trujillo (@mikehtrujillo) December 7, 2017
Neil King, a former WSJ reporter based in D.C., responded to that with this:
Hearing the total may top 40. https://t.co/SIRQ9B4YLE
— Neil King (@NKingofDC) December 7, 2017
Congressional reporter Haley Byrd tweeted this ominous PSA not long before the Franks news broke:
Now would be a good time to bookmark the House press gallery's member casualty list that tracks lawmaker resignations and retirements. https://t.co/UOg0qvVk0w
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) December 7, 2017
She noted later that the Franks rumors had been circulating earlier this afternoon in the Capitol. He’s a member of the House Freedom Caucus and an ardent pro-life warrior — and, apparently, a soon-to-be ex-congressman:
“We will have a statement a little bit later, but that’s all I can tell you right now,” Franks told Roll Call. “The statement will explain.”
It is unclear exactly why Franks is stepping down, but one Arizona Republican said there had been rumors of inappropriate behavior. The Republican said the congressman had apparently been making plans to run for Senate in 2012, but abruptly canceled those plans.
“There’s been rumors swirling around him for years, at least in 2012,” the Republican said. “And if this turns out to be true, there won’t be that many people who are surprised.”
Roy Moore’s about to be elected to the Senate and Al Franken may yet get a second chance to hold onto his seat. What the hell could be coming out on Franks that’s so terrible that he’s impelled to resign before it even breaks? Is the idea that if he hands over his scalp before anything is published, the story might be scrapped on grounds that there’s no point hounding someone who’s already fallen on his sword? I don’t think the #MeToo moment in journalism will allow that.
I suppose quitting at least spares him the ordeal of being questioned by reporters about whatever it is in the Capitol’s hallways.
He told reporters on his way off the House floor a few minutes ago that his statement will “speak for itself.” Stand by for updates.
Update: While we wait for Franks’s statement, note that defenses of Al Franken are beginning to congeal.
Democrats will rue the day they demanded @alfranken resign. They’ve given into the conflation of crimes (Weinstein, Moore) and power abuse (bosses) with boorishness. It won’t get more women voters and will lose more anti- PC men. Sucker’s game.
— Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter) December 7, 2017
Minnesota Governor Dayton should wait until next week to sort this out, making it clear that if Alabama chooses to drastically lower the bar Franken is going right back in. Doug Jones is the only decent candidate in that race.
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 7, 2017
Here’s Sen. Bill Cassidy — a Republican — emphasizing repeatedly that Franken received no due process.
Update: If you’re worried about Franks’s district flipping to Democrats, don’t be. It’s deep red.
Update: The first clue on Franks comes from CNN:
New: House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Rep. Trent Franks engaged in "sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment”
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) December 7, 2017
The Arizona Republic says it asked Franks last week if “he was aware of any legal settlements to resolve claims against him involving sexual harassment or creating a hostile workplace for women.” He declined to answer.
Update: Well, that’s a new one. Note to male bosses everywhere: Asking your women employees if they’d like to carry your unborn child isn’t proper workplace behavior.
BREAKING: Franks has come under investigation for asking two female staffers about becoming a surrogate for his child. Story TK pic.twitter.com/9kczdGhlQ6
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) December 7, 2017
Not that it makes the request more appropriate, but was this an earnest invitation or was this some weird come-on to get them in the sack? “No, see, we’d only be doing it to procreate,” etc?
Update: Here’s Franks’s full statement. If he’s telling the truth it was definitely not a come-on but a sincere request to help him and his wife add another child to their family. How often do you see sexual harassment cases where there’s no lascivious intent?
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) December 7, 2017