Women across the country have found their voices and their power. While the man who was charged with seducing a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 30’s ran for the Senate, Democrats could not afford to be seen as light on sexual abuse. That was when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called for Al Franken to step down, but was that a mistake?
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski addressed Democrats’ rush to judgment. Franken may have been a sacrificial lamb on the altar of politics, which was, she said:
‘Bringing down good people without due process.’
Gillibrand has been actively working against sexual abuse in the military for years, so hers was a strong voice against the Minnesota junior senator, and all the women in the Senate joined in with her with one exception. That person was Senator Amy Klobuchar Minnesota’s other senator, the person who probably knew him better than anyone in the Senate.
The Louisiana Senate competitor was at the deepest end of sexual abuse, and Franken was at was at the shallowest end. About eight women came forward and said the Minnesota senator had touched them during photo shots. Two women said he “forcibly” kissed them. Franken said he remembered the incidents differently, but took responsibility if the women felt disrespected.
Most damning, Franken posed for a photo of himself “touching” a woman’s breasts during a USO tour. Keep in mind that he was a comedian, not a senator at the time. Now, he regrets the joke.
Manchin says that Franken should go through an ethics investigation and claims the Democrats “railroaded” the Minnesota senator, according to POLITICO:
‘What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats…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.”‘
People close to Franken said he has not reversed his plans to step down. He was honorable in his decision, but he must feel betrayed by his colleagues. The date of Franken’s departure is January 2, 2018. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has already named his replacement, the current Democratic Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith. Franken has already begun working on her transition.
Manchin came down hard on fellow Democrats who issued statements demanding that Franken resign, POLITICO reported:
‘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.’
Then, the West Virginia senator continued:
‘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.”‘
The Democratic senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy released a statement calling for Franken to resign. Since then, he has told his fellow Democrat that he regrets doing it.
One senator who called for Franken’s resignation has also told him how much he regretted that choice. The senator chose to remain anonymous but said:
‘I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts. In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.’
The following is Franken’s entire resignation speech before the Senate:
Gillibrand said the Democrats had to send a “clear message of zero tolerance.” In other words, it was a political decision. The New York senator also worried about how the Ethics Committee was shielding people in Congress. A person who talked to the senator about her decision said:
‘He was entitled to a process, but he was not entitled to my silence.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Mark Wilson.