Senate

Al Franken says he ‘absolutely’ regrets resigning

Al Franken told The New Yorker in an interview published Monday that he “absolutely” regrets resigning from the Senate in 2018 following sexual harassment allegations from eight women.

Franken explained that in retrospect he would have appeared before the Senate Ethics Committee before stepping down.

“I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of ‘You shouldn’t have resigned,’ ” he told the magazine.

{mosads}Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer, was pressured by a number of Democrats to step aside after Leeann Tweeden accused him of having forced an unwanted kiss on her during a 2006 U.S.O. tour. Seven other women accused Franken of inappropriate kissing or touching soon after.

However, some Democrats have expressed regret about his resignation.

Seven current or former senators who demanded Franken’s resignation told The New Yorker that they had been wrong to do so.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told the outlet that supporting resignation without first getting all the facts was “one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made” in 45 years in the Senate.

“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,” former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) said.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) told the magazine that the Senate Ethics Committee “should have been allowed to move forward,” adding that “that due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy.”

Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) said he’d “regretted it ever since” joining calls for resignation.

“There’s no excuse for sexual assault,” he added. “But Al deserved more of a process. I don’t denigrate the allegations, but this was the political equivalent of capital punishment.”

“This was a rush to judgment that didn’t allow any of us to fully explore what this was about. I took the judgment of my peers rather than independently examining the circumstances,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the outlet. “In my heart, I’ve not felt right about it.”

“I realized almost right away I’d made a mistake. I felt terrible. I should have stood up for due process to render what it’s supposed to — the truth,” former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said.

“I made a mistake. I started having second thoughts shortly after he stepped down. He had the right to be heard by an independent investigative body,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said. “I’ve heard from people around my state, and around the country, saying that they think he got railroaded. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m a lawyer. I really believe in due process.”

Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), who was retired at time, told The New Yorker, “It’s terrible what happened to him. It was unfair. It took the legs out from under him. He was a very fine senator.”

Tags Al Franken Angus King Bill Nelson Harry Reid Heidi Heitkamp Jeff Merkley Patrick Leahy Tammy Duckworth Tom Udall

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