Raise your hands if you didn’t see this one coming.
Over the weekend, it seems that some Democrats in the upper chamber have had second thoughts about calling for Al Franken’s resignation in the wake of sexual assault allegations made against him. Too little, too late? Or could Franken actually use this as an opportunity to at least “postpone” his departure and give the Ethics Committee another shot at his case as he’d originally intended? That might depend on how influential his colleagues are, now that they’re suggesting there’s a path to redemption which allows him to keep his job. (The Hill)
At least four senators, including two Democrats, have reportedly said that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should reconsider his resignation.
Sen. Joe Machine (sic) (D-W.Va.) said that the deluge of Democrats calling for Franken to resign was “the most hypocritical thing” he has “ever seen done to a human being,” according to Politico.
“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” Manchin told Politico. “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.”
In addition to Manchin, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) reportedly told Franken he regrets his decision calling for him to resign, as did one Republican, James Lankford of Oklahoma. A fourth, unnamed senator also allegedly told reporters that he felt the same way.
Let’s leave Lankford out of this for the moment since he doesn’t really have a horse in this race, being from the GOP. The Democrats taking this position may indeed have the right idea at heart as we’ve discussed here before. Perhaps Franken (and others both in and outside of government) deserve at least a bit more of a hearing before a rush to judgment is completed. But they’re also opening themselves up to charges of blatant hypocrisy. When the original calls for Franken’s head went out, Roy Moore was still very competitive in his Senate race and was expected to pull off a victory. I noted at the time that it would be problematic for them to then call for Moore’s immediate expulsion upon arrival if they hadn’t cleaned their own house first. But now that Moore won’t be taking a seat alongside them perhaps they feel in the clear to let Franken back into the club (at least until the Ethics Committee has a chance to weigh in).
But is that true? Keep in mind that Moore wasn’t the only target of the Democrats. A number of them, including one of their serious 2020 hopefuls, have already been calling for the President to step down because of allegations against him. Keep in mind that Franken has eight accusers offering details of a wide range of offenses. How will they justify continuing those calls if they acquiesce and allow Al Franken to keep his seat?
This entire question may prove moot because the initial decision is really up to Franken. On the one hand, he made it clear during his resignation speech that he felt that he wasn’t guilty of anything serious enough to justify his removal and the Ethics Committee would see it the same way. With that in mind, he might be considering this new discussion a possible lifeline he could grab. But he’s already gone on national television and declared he was leaving. His successor has already been named and is likely measuring the drapes in Franken’s office as we speak. If he goes back on his word now, the cloud hanging over his head going forward will be, if anything, even darker than it already was.
My prediction? Franken still goes, but he takes these calls from Manchin, Leahy and others as tokens to build upon when he inevitably releases his new book and starts whatever sort of liberal fundraising group he winds up working on.