At least two Democratic senators want Al Franken of Minnesota to rescind his resignation, according to a Monday report from POLITICO. Franken announced his resignation on Dec. 7 after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. The senator initially said he would not step down from his seat; after a torrent of calls for his resignation came from his own Democratic colleagues, he ultimately agreed to leave.
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia was one of two Democrats who spoke to POLITICO expressing disgust at the push for the Minnesota lawmaker’s removal. “What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” he said.
He also slammed those who asked for Franken’s resignation and who went on to watch his speech declaring that he would be doing. “The most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being — and then have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech and go over and hug him? That’s hypocrisy at the highest level I’ve ever seen in my life. Made me sick,” he said. “Here’s a man, that all he said [was], ‘Take me through the Ethics Committee. I will live by whatever decision and I will walk away thinking about this opportunity I’ve had while I was here. But you find out if I’m a predator.’”
Though Manchin says he believes Franken should leave Congress if he’s found guilty of the accusations, he insists there a formal review should be conducted first.
“I hope they have enough guts … and enough conscience and enough heart to say, ‘Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave,’” Manchin said.
Two sources told POLITICO that Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who publicly called for Franken’s resignation, has privately told the Minnesota senator that he regrets having done so.
Manchin and Leahy — as well as at least two other senators who were not named by POLITICO — stand mostly alone in their beliefs that Franken should stay in office until an official investigation is conducted. Most, according to the report, feel “comfortable” with their decision to urge that he step down and push a “zero tolerance” policy on the issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault.