* 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.