Democrats urged Al Franken to resign last month over sexual assault allegations to gain the so-called moral high ground. Now, it seems like they're hoping they can keep both the high ground and Franken.
At least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning. That number includes two Senators, who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago. Politico reported that they said they now feel "remorse" over "what they feel was a rush to judgment."
The main senator calling for him not to step down is Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia. Initially, Manchin asked Franken not to step down. He wanted him to at least wait for an Ethics Committee investigation. He said the senator from Minnesota was "railroaded by fellow Democrats."
Manchin said, “What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats." He made the comment in an interview for with politico.
When Franken resigned, he didn't give a solid timeline. Instead, he said he’d go “in the coming weeks." That's fed hopes that he might be able to stay on in the Senate. However, last week, his successor, Tina Smith, Minnesota's Democratic lieutenant governor, was named.
While Manchin doesn't agree with Franken's decision, people close to him told Politico that he has no intention of rescinding his resignation. He plans to formally resign in early January, and he's currently working with his replacement to help her transition.
Manchin criticized the people who issued statements asking for Franken's resignation. He called them out for the way they pressured him and then acted like his friend the next day.
“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,” Manchin said.
He added, “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.’”
Manchin said he hopes Franken reverses his decision. He's asking those who called for his resignation to admit their mistake.
He said, “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.’”
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, who issued a statement calling for Franken's resignation, is reportedly one of those senators who has reversed his decision. According to people near him, he privately told Franken that he regretted the call.
“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” said a third senator who requested not to be named. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.”
Two of the senators who issued resignation told Politico that they felt rushed to weigh in. In retrospect, they said "they signed off on statements without the appropriate care and thought."
Politico notes that people outside of the Senate are beginning to think Franken shouldn't resign.
“I and many other people—and specifically feminists—feel that it’s not too late, that he should not resign, and that the rush to sweep him out was ill-conceived, and we think that he has been supportive of women and women’s issues,” said Emily Jane Goodman, a retired New York state Supreme Court judge who’s helped start a Feminists for Franken group on Facebook. “Although we do deplore any kind of gender-based misconduct, we think at the same time he is entitled to a fair hearing.”
Do you think they'll succeed in keeping Franken? In other news, Sarah Palin's oldest son was arrested on domestic violence charges.