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Durbin also says he regrets Al Franken’s treatment

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2019

* Let’s return to 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.”

As we discussed yesterday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth now regrets calling for Franken’s resignation.

* I asked Sen. Durbin’s office for comment yesterday and again today and didn’t hear back until they sent me this link to a Washington Post story

“I certainly would have said that we should turn to due process,” Durbin told The Washington Post. “He deserved his day before the Ethics Committee, and his accuser the same. I think that would’ve been a more thoughtful outcome.”

When asked whether he would not have called for Franken to resign that day, Durbin responded: “With the assurance that there would’ve been a timely hearing and due process, I would’ve held back.” […]

Now, Durbin said Senate Democrats rushed to judgment on Franken, saying senators were “pressed to make a quick decision and unfortunately did it at the expense of due process.”

He also acknowledged that a controversy involving then-Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls in the 1970s, was one factor in the Democrats’ swift decision to push out Franken.

“You’ve got to put it in that context,” Durbin said. “I mean, it was a political context of Roy Moore. The accusations were very, very serious against him, much more so than the serious allegations against Al. But I think that was definitely part of the context.”

* Back to the New Yorker article

Franken asked to meet with [Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer], who suggested talking at his apartment in downtown D.C., in order to avoid the press. “It was like a scene out of a movie,” Franken recalled. Schumer sat on the edge of his bed while Franken and his wife, who had come to lend moral support, pleaded for more time. According to Franken, Schumer told him to quit by 5 p.m.; otherwise, he would instruct the entire Democratic caucus to demand Franken’s resignation. Schumer’s spokesperson denied that Schumer had threatened to organize the rest of the caucus against Franken. But he confirmed that Schumer told Franken that he needed to announce his resignation by five o’clock. Schumer also said that if Franken stayed he could be censured and stripped of committee assignments.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Franken told me. “I asked him for due process and he said no.”

By the end of the day, thirty-six Democratic senators had publicly demanded Franken’s resignation, including Schumer, who had known Franken since they had overlapped at Harvard.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

21 Comments
  1. - JoeMaddon - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    **“He deserved his day before the Ethics Committee, and his accuser the same. **

    AccuserS. There wasn’t one accuser. There were 7.


  2. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:36 pm:

    When everyone is guilty then the only question to be answered is how to punish and how quickly to do so. The problem is that life is slightly more nuanced that than the righteous warriors of PC behavior would have us believe. So, in order to be fair, we must kill first and then ask questions.


  3. - City Zen - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:45 pm:

    ==…was one factor in the Democrats’ swift decision to push out Franken.==

    What were the other factors, dear senator?


  4. - A guy - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:50 pm:

    They actually regret doing the right thing, in perfect context of that time and today. Pictures and multiple witnesses exist. Let’s assume he went through that process (which he should have been granted!) What do you suppose the testimony and exhibits would look like?

    Thus the Chuck Schumer deadline. Process or no process; too much testimony and too much evidence. The haranguing today I simply don’t understand.


  5. - wonkavist - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:52 pm:

    @NeverPoliticallyCorrect

    Equating having to resign from being a U.S. Senator with being killed is ridiculous. He may have deserved more process but this outcome is far from that of death.


  6. - Louis G. Atsaves - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    Can Senator Durbin contradict himself any further?


  7. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    I’m a bit fuzzy on the timing but I seem to recall the Democrats trying to go the extra mile to show they took these issues seriously and would act swiftly, unlike the GOP with Trump, Roy Moore, etc. So under the bus Franken went. Did he deserve to be under the bus? Maybe, and perhaps the high road on the issue really should have been Democratic leadership stating that accusers will be believed, but we will still give due process to the accused. Seems like there is an element of buyers remorse here because some on the other side did worse things.


  8. - thunderspirit - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:12 pm:

    Like his colleague, Sen. Duckworth, I have rarely disagreed with Durbin more than I do on this.

    To reiterate what I said yesterday on this: 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.

    Durbin, like Duckworth, is wrong on this issue.


  9. - Steve - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:14 pm:

    Yes there were 7 accusers . But, Al Franken deserved due process. Without due process you don’t have much.


  10. - lincoln's beard - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    If he hadn’t resigned, he would have gotten due process.


  11. - JoeMaddon - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    **But, Al Franken deserved due process. Without due process you don’t have much.**

    Due process is a legal term. Not a political one.


  12. - Matt Vernau - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    NPR ran an interesting story on this today. It seems the first accuser’s story did not hold up.
    If as a cynic I see the business of government as using other peoples money to do what you want….then it makes sense to throw a man like Franken under the bus. Franken is smart, worth listening to even when you think he is wrong. He is the kind of man who can sell an idea or at least convince you to examine your own position. Exactly the type who could maybe talk you into compromising. Those are the very reasons he was expendable, Due Process? All that matters to vote counters is the total number of democratic votes. Maybe a howling mob more as useful when you don’t really want to write laws that are acceptable to both sides of the isle???


  13. - Steve - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:31 pm:

    - JoeMaddon -

    You are right. But, no matter how you feel about Al Franken , he was forced to step down without being convicted of anything. Accusations don’t mean a finding of guilt. It’s an insult to the voters who voted for him.


  14. - theCardinal - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:45 pm:

    He could have stayed in office, and tried to ride out the storm…he chose to take a walk. Being in the negative spot light is tough some folks dont want to take the heat.


  15. - A guy - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    ==It’s an insult to the voters who voted for him.==

    On top of the insult of acting this way. Packwood of Oregon was similar.
    Yes he deserved due process (legally and politically- the Senate has rules and a committee to make sure they’re followed) In his case, due process would have demonstrated even more visually the pictures and the testimony. He was sunk either way.
    His leaving may have been enough to keep disgusting Roy Jones from winning a special election. If that’s the case, the country owes him a debt of gratitude for leaving (mostly) on his own.


  16. - Notorious R.B.G. - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 4:06 pm:

    I wonder how many of the commentors (both on this post and yesterday’s Duckworth post) who said this was the right choice actually read the entire story in the New Yorker. I read it last night and found it very compelling. I agree that Franken made poor choices. Many of the women who came forward refused to speak to the New Yorker. The complainant with the photograph did not have her story fully vetted. The others, even less so. It would have been interesting to see this go before the Ethics Committee and see how it turned out.


  17. - A guy - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 4:31 pm:

    Because once you’ve gone through the Senate Ethics Committee, they write your name on the blackboard.

    They really don’t have much power, nothing compared to the peer pressure of Chuck at the Dorm. Peer pressure and voters are the checks and balances for dudes who don’t behave. That’s why so few are ever really forced to leave.


  18. - Bourbon Street - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 4:40 pm:

    Everyone deserves due process because some accusers’ stories lack credibility once exposed to rational decision-making. I don’t know how Franken’s case would have turned out, but let us not forget cases like the Duke lacrosse team and the fraternity at UVA that was the subject of a discredited Rolling Stone article.


  19. - SSL - Tuesday, Jul 23, 19 @ 6:51 pm:

    Senator Franken was in a tough spot, but he had enough questionable behavior to be there.

    What I don’t get is all the talk about this now. Are they trying to rehabilitate his image so he can run for office again?


  20. - Gdubya - Wednesday, Jul 24, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    “Photographic evidence of his behavior exists.”
    He wasn’t actually grabbing her breasts. It’s like holding the tower of Pisa up, you’re not actually touching the tower, just looks like you are…


  21. - tellitlikeitis - Thursday, Jul 25, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Franken was not forced to resign. He certainly could have not resigned, and there was nothing anyone could do to get him out of office, until he was up for re-election. He should have hung on. Unlikely his resigning or not had any impact on Moore’s localized US Senate election.


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