On Monday, Politico reported that at least four senators are pushing Al Franken to reconsider his decision to resign from the Senate. Accusations against Franken by multiple women, which included stories of forcible kissing and groping, led Franken to resign earlier this month after pressure from his Democratic women colleagues. (He has denied several of the claims.) All of the senators named in Politico’s report are men.
Not all of the senators in the report are publicly calling for Franken to reverse course. James Lankford, a Republican, has held the line that the ethics investigation should proceed; Democrat Patrick Leahy has issued a statement in favor of Franken’s resignation, but Politico reported that he has “since told him privately that he regrets doing so, according to two people familiar with the conversation.”
This was the thinking of other, anonymous senators:
“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” said a third senator who has also called for the resignation, and has since expressed regret directly to Franken. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.” The senator asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue among Democrats.
Two of the senators who issued resignation calls told POLITICO they felt rushed to weigh in, as they were focused on hearings and other meetings and pressure on Franken mounted. In retrospect they said they signed off on statements without the appropriate care and thought.
The person who has been the most open is Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He called the pressure Democrats have put on Franken to resign “the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being.” He repeated his objections on CNN on Monday morning.
What about due process?! is the fear that is brought up time and time again, including among these men who are urging Franken to reconsider his resignation. But what these arguments almost never take into account is the fact that women in Congress have never seen some sort of due process. Over the past few months it has been revealed that Congress’s sexual harassment policies are woefully inadequate, built only to protect men in power. It’s impossible to calculate how many women have been quietly run out of politics over the decades because of this.
It’s no surprise that mostly male politicians are the ones calling the treatment of Franken as unjust; it’s only surprising that (thus far), their voices aren’t the most influential ones.
Note: this piece has been updated to clarify that not all of the senators named in Politico’s report are necessarily among the four calling for Franken to reverse course.