As Senator Al Franken faces a second sexual assault accusation, six members of his own party have spoken out against him. The six Senators – all women – are calling on Franken to make like disgraced Representative John Conyers and resign, sparing the party the on-going controversy.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said she “struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”
Missouri’s Claire McCaskill was more direct: “Al Franken should resign.”
Patty Murray, a Senator from Washington, said that she was “shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator and alleged 2020 presidential hopeful Kamala Harris said, “Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.”
These six women became the first Democrats to call on a member of their own party to resign. Perhaps this is a political calculation: the Democrats can portray themselves as the defender of America’s moral values, over and against a Republican Party that is defending a sex offender for an Alabama Senate seat (Roy Moore) and arguably voted one into the White House (President Donald Trump).
If that is true and the Democrats succeed in establishing a precedent that people accused of sexual assault should resign from the Senate, then perhaps they can steal that unlikely seat in Alabama.