Senate Democrats: Al Franken could have waited out an ethics investigation if he wanted

  • Some Democrats have expressed regret for calling on Al Franken to resign before the conclusion of an ethics investigation.
  • Franken has not officially resigned from office, despite previously stating his intent to do so earlier this month.
  • Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has already appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to take Franken’s place when he officially steps down.

WASHINGTON – When Democratic Sen. Al Franken announced he would resign from Congress, a commitment with which he has yet to officially follow through, he circumvented a lengthy and difficult investigation by the Ethics Committee.

And when a couple of Franken’s colleagues suggested on Monday that he should have rode out the process before stepping down, some of his fellow Democrats said he could have made the decision to fight for his exoneration against the eight women accusing him of sexual misconduct ranging from groping to forced kisses.

“That was his choice to make,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told Business Insider. “I think if he had decided to stay, he would have found a lot of support.”

“I think having the facts is a good thing,” said Maine Sen. Angus King when asked if Franken should have stayed through the course of an ethics investigation. King, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, did not answer to whether he still holds the position that Franken should follow through with the resignation and a spokesperson for his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“My initial point was that he should go through the ethics investigation,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who had previously withheld calls for a resignation until Franken came to his own conclusion. “His decision was to resign and I said then made the right decision. It’s his decision to make.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan remained sure of the decision by Franken to resign. “I think Senator Franken did the right thing and at this point we should just move on,” she said.

Franken announced his intent to resign “in the coming weeks” earlier this month. Since Franken’s floor speech announcing the decision, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to take his place. But since he has not officially resigned, Franken still holds the Senate office.

Before Franken decided to resign, Republicans were hesitant to call for his head the way Democrats had, citing a need for a completed investigation and proper due process.

“My understanding is they have started an ethics investigation and I strongly support that,” Sen. Rob Portman said earlier in December. “And we should see what the ethics investigation finds out but if it finds out that he’s engaged in this behaviour, then yes [Franken should resign].”

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