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Sen. Duckworth now regrets role in Al Franken’s resignation

Monday, Jul 22, 2019

* December of 2017

Both of Illinois’ Democratic senators on Wednesday joined the list of lawmakers calling on U.S. Sen. Al Franken to quit.

In a tweet Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, said, “Senator Franken’s behavior was wrong. He has admitted to what he did. He should resign from the Senate.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, in a statement Wednesday afternoon, said she was “deeply disappointed” by the Minnesota senator’s behavior.

“I am deeply disappointed by Sen. Franken’s behavior. He must step aside,” she said. “To all those across America who have come forward to share their stories over the past few months: thank you. Your courage and strength in driving this long-overdue national conversation is awe-inspiring.”

* Jane Mayer at the New Yorker

It is extremely rare for a senator to resign under pressure. No senator has been expelled since the Civil War, and in modern times only three have resigned under the threat of expulsion: Harrison Williams, in 1982, Bob Packwood, in 1995, and John Ensign, in 2011. Williams resigned after he was convicted of bribery and conspiracy; Packwood faced numerous sexual-assault accusations; Ensign was accused of making illegal payoffs to hide an affair. […]

A remarkable number of Franken’s Senate colleagues have regrets about their own roles in his fall. Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so. Such admissions are unusual in an institution whose members rarely concede mistakes. Patrick Leahy, the veteran Democrat from Vermont, said that his decision to seek Franken’s resignation without first getting all the facts was “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made” in forty-five years in the Senate. Heidi Heitkamp, the former senator from North Dakota, told me, “If there’s one decision I’ve made that I would take back, it’s the decision to call for his resignation. It was made in the heat of the moment, without concern for exactly what this was.” Tammy Duckworth, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, told me that the Senate Ethics Committee “should have been allowed to move forward.” She said it was important to acknowledge the trauma that Franken’s accusers had gone through, but added, “We needed more facts. That due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy.” A

I’ve asked Sen. Durbin’s office if he also has any regrets.

* Back to the story

For some activists in the women’s movement, Franken’s resignation was a welcome milestone. Linda Hirshman, the author of the recent book “Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment,” told me, “Franken clearly intended to touch these women, and in doing so he violated their right to bodily integrity.” She argues that the Democratic Party has belatedly made up for having excused Bill Clinton’s treatment of women, adding that it’s “finally starting to be the party that protects women from having their asses grabbed.”

Other feminists see the episode as a necessary corrective. [Rebecca Traister, a writer-at-large for New York], who thinks that the behavior described in the media qualifies as sexual harassment, told me, “One of the troubling things about this is that there aren’t easy answers. When you change rules, you end up penalizing people who were caught behaving according to the old rules. But if you don’t change the rules they will never change.”

The lawyer Debra Katz, who has represented Christine Blasey Ford and other sexual-harassment victims, remains troubled by Franken’s case. She contends, “The allegations levelled against Senator Franken did not warrant his forced expulsion from the Senate, particularly given the context in which most of the behavior occurred, which was in his capacity as a comedian.” She adds, “All offensive behavior should be addressed, but not all offensive behavior warrants the most severe sanction.” Katz sees Franken as a cautionary tale for the #MeToo movement. “To treat all allegations the same is not only inappropriate,” she warns. “It feeds into a backlash narrative that men are vulnerable to even frivolous allegations by women.”

…Adding… Possible 2022 GOP opponent…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    That’s what happens when people no longer respect due process in all political situations.

  2. - Unpopular - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    “When you change rules, you end up penalizing people who were caught behaving according to the old rules.”

    Actually, that statement is ridiculous on it’s face. While it is true that society today operates under this premise, it’s at the heart of much that is wrong with today’s world.

  3. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    Al Frankens sin’s pale in comparison to…well…to just about every other notable offender.

  4. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    You know what? Am Franken got called out on sexist crap that wasn’t even funny.

  5. - MakePoliticsCoolAgain - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:23 pm:

    I was absolutely disgusted with the Democratic party when this story first broke and am once again angered by the indignation of the party. Reminds Democrats how weak the leadership team is in the Senate and lack of respect for due process. I will NOT be voting for any presidential candidates in the Democratic primary who decided to skip over due process and force Mr. Frankens’ resignation.

  6. - Steve - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    Because Minnesota Democrats were in a position to replace Senator Franken with another Democrat.. he became instantly expendable.

  7. - Illinifan - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:39 pm:

    I wonder if these Democrats would ever recant their savaging of Brett Kavanaugh.

  8. - lakeside - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    =Brett Kavanaugh==

    Ah, yes, he paid the ultimate price, sitting on SCOTUS.

    (That’s a no, btw.)

  9. - Friend of the family - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:56 pm:

    I strongly believe Duckworth should not be ashamed. It doesn’t matter what Mr. Franken has to say about his behavior. There is a picture of him for which he actually posed simulating groping of a sleeping woman. That behavior is unbecoming and the fact that he did it to someone who was no awake and alert is even worse. His behavior was reprehensible and she should move on past this issue and leave it in the past. If she wants to reconsider the process so that no one, Republican or Democrat is subjected to scrutiny without due process for reprehensible behavior that makes sense. But what Franken did was horrible on many levels and any defense of him is misogyny.

  10. - Amalia - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    Love Duckworth, but think it was right to get Franken to leave. that photo was horrible.

  11. - thunderspirit - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:14 pm:

    Frankin was guilty of terrible judgment, at the very least. That it happened before he was a Senator has no bearing on his actions or on their impact.

    Photographic evidence of his behavior exists.

    I have rarely disagreed with Duckworth more than I do on this.

  12. - A State Employee Guy - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:14 pm:

    Aw jeez, Tammy.

    That’s very disappointing to read.

  13. - A State Employee Guy - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:21 pm:

    1)What additional facts did you need, Tammy?

    2)What would that extra due process have yielded?

    I’ll take questions she doesn’t even bother to try and answer for 200, Alex.

  14. - Just Observing - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    === Because Minnesota Democrats were in a position to replace Senator Franken with another Democrat.. he became instantly expendable. ===


  15. - SWIL Voter - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    Very typical Democrat behavior. Pick a position that angers half the people. Then flip flop, angering the other half. Lose the respect of all. They were right to pressure him to resign. He admitted to behavior that crossed the line. He was easily replaced. Moving on

  16. - oh? - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 3:52 pm:

    Is the Senate better or worse for his departure? Was losing him worth it? How has his departure bettered the D.C. environment?

  17. - City Zen - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:12 pm:

    Please notify me when Tammy becomes self-aware.

  18. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    - Cheryl44 - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    You know what? Am Franken got called out on sexist crap that wasn’t even funny.

    I totally agree…but…it wasn’t criminal…and I wish Franken had stayed.

    I assume hee left out of a personal sense of decency…a rare sense by comparison…was my point.

  19. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    I assume he… left out of a personal sense of decency.

  20. - zatoichi - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 4:32 pm:

    Where are the verbal gymnastics over more recent activities of others?

  21. - A guy - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 5:00 pm:

    ==I assume he… left out of a personal sense of decency.==

    Um, no. He left when there was more sand in the bottom of the glass than the top. Tammy and a few others want to shift the sand a few years later.
    You can’t look at those pics and not resolve that Al…was a creep. Unless you don’t want to, of course.

  22. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 5:04 pm:

    You can’t look at those pics and not resolve that Al…was a creep. Unless you don’t want to, of course.

    Yeah…I don’t…want to.

  23. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 5:30 pm:

    All men are somewhat sexually immature at some times…is that an excuse?…No…never…but the truth remains true…Which man will disagree?

    First stone?…who will cast it?

  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Jul 22, 19 @ 8:01 pm:

    Lou Lang is probably glad he got the due process that Franken did not.

  25. - brickle - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 8:07 am:

    Franken resigning was the best thing he could have done to advance the political causes he cares most about.

    Political scandals have never had “due process” and I’m not sure why this standard is suddenly being invented for them.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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