- Some Senate Democrats are calling on Sen. Al Franken to remain in office even after he announced he would resign amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations.
- Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democrat who is publicly opposing his colleagues’ decision to pressure Franken to leave without an ethics investigation into the allegations.
- “What they did to Al was atrocious,” Manchin said on Monday, calling his colleagues “hypocrites” who lack decency.
Some Senate Democrats are calling on Sen. Al Franken, who announced earlier this month that he will resign amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations, to remain in office and undergo an ethics investigation.
While at least three Democrats are having second thoughts about their previous calls for Franken to leave office, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has come out forcefully against the move, calling it “hypocritical” and accusing Democrats of playing politics.
“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” Manchin told Politico of the majority of his caucus, calling their decision “the most hypocritical thing” he has “ever seen done to a human being.”
He went on, “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.”
Manchin said that Franken deserves “due process” in the form of an expedited Senate Ethics Committee investigation into allegations by eight women that Franken groped or forcibly kissed them. Pressuring Franken to resign without investigating the allegations is unfair, Manchin said.
“It’s just unbelievable to me how you can destroy a human being’s life, and his family, and everything they stand for without giving him a chance,” Manchin told CNN on Monday morning.
The conservative Democratic lawmaker argued that the avalanche of calls by Democrats for Franken to step aside after his seventh female accuser came forward was a political stunt.
“Everyone sees through it as being politics,” he said, adding that if his colleagues, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “have any decency in them,” they would reverse their call.
“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,'” Manchin told Politico.
Manchin isn’t the only Democratic senator suggesting that Franken reconsider resigning
Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who publicly called on Franken to resign, has privately told Franken that he regrets the move, sources with knowledge of the conversation told Politico.
Two other Democratic senators, who requested anonymity, told Politico they believe, in retrospect, that the Democrats “acted too fast” in pushing Franken to resign.
“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” one lawmaker said.
Manchin, whose state went for Trump by over 40 points last November, suggested that he doesn’t view allegations of sexual misconduct against politicians as necessarily worthy of formal investigation. He told CNN on Monday that he isn’t interested in a potential probe into allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump, arguing that there are more important issues to focus on.
“I really have moved on,” he said. “We’re talking about healthcare, we’re talking about a tax cut … people just want to continue to regurgitate so many things and there’s so many important things that we have to deal with.”
There are no indications that Franken will reverse his decision to leave office. People familiar with his thinking told Politico that he is planning to resign in early January and has begun working with his appointed successor, Minnesota’s Democratic lieutenant governor, Tina Smith.
The vast majority of Democrats, nearly all of whom called on Franken to resign, are standing firm.
“Schumer and the vast majority of the caucus like Sen. Franken and will miss him, but did what they felt was best and stand by it,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Politico.
Watch a clip below:
Sen. Joe Manchin on Sen. Al Franken: "I definitely think he should not resign." https://t.co/ZIDNuOQXsF
— New Day (@NewDay) December 18, 2017
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