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 DurbinSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (D-Ill.) said Tuesday that he is having second thoughts after calling on then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFormer GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again 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 MooreGOP Senate candidate 'pissed off' at Trump over health care for veterans Durbin says he has second thoughts about asking for Franken's resignation Alabama GOP senate candidate says 'homosexual activities' have ruined TV, country's moral core 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 SmithThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again MORE (D-Minn.) later that year.

Among the lawmakers calling for Franken's ouster was Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-N.Y.), a 2020 presidential candidate. She has defended her calls for his resignation, noting the multitude of accusers.