Durbin says he has second thoughts about asking for Franken's resignation

Durbin says he has second thoughts about asking for Franken's resignation
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children MORE (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that he is having second thoughts after calling on then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE (D-Minn.) to resign in late 2017 over allegations of sexual misconduct.

In an interview with The Washington Post, the Democratic whip said that, looking back, he would have preferred if Franken and his accuser had appeared before the Senate Ethics Committee to give them a chance for due process.

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

Durbin added that many of his fellow Democrats abandoned due process in favor of making a swift decision under mounting public pressure.

His colleagues, he argued, were “pressed to make a quick decision and unfortunately did it at the expense of due process.”

Franken resigned under pressure after a radio broadcaster accused him of forcibly kissing her more than a decade earlier, when Franken was still an entertainer.

Other women also came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against Franken, who has denied the allegations.

At the time, Durbin referred to these accusations as the reason he called on Franken to resign.

“[We’ve] just seen that the charges, credible charges, continued to keep coming, and I thought it might have been an isolated incident or two, but it seems to be that there was a pattern of conduct,” he told reporters in December 2017.

“I hope members of both parties will be guided by sound principles, even when it’s painful. And this is painful. Al Franken’s my friend," Durbin added at the time.

In the interview with the Post, Durbin acknowledged also being swayed by sexual misconduct accusations enveloping then-Alabama Senate candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreRoy Moore to advise Louisiana pastor arrested for allegedly defying ban on large gatherings Trump endorses Tuberville over Sessions in Alabama Senate runoff Sessions to face Tuberville in Alabama GOP Senate runoff MORE, who has denied the allegations.

“You’ve got to put it in that context,” Durbin also told the Post. “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.”

Multiple Democrats have expressed regret for how Franken was ousted from the Senate in early January 2018. He was replaced in a special election by Sen. Tina SmithTina Flint SmithDemocrats call for pollution reduction requirements in any aid for airlines, cruises Democratic Senators introduce bill to provide free coronavirus testing Democratic senators ask prison operators for answers on coronavirus plans MORE (D-Minn.) later that year.

Among the lawmakers calling for Franken's ouster was Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden struggles to stay in the spotlight Biden fights for attention in coronavirus news cycle Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package MORE (D-N.Y.), a 2020 presidential candidate. She has defended her calls for his resignation, noting the multitude of accusers.