Se­na­tor takes part­ing shot at GOP tol­er­ance of Trump and Moore

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALAN FRAM

Se­na­tor de­fi­ant as he calls out Trump, Moore in part­ing words.

WASH­ING­TON — Sen. Al Franken, a ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star only weeks ago, re­luc­tantly an­nounced Thurs­day that he’s re­sign­ing from Congress, suc­cumb­ing to a tor­rent of sex­ual ha­rass­ment al­le­ga­tions and evap­o­rat­ing sup­port from fel­low Democrats. But he fired a de­fi­ant part­ing shot at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and other Repub­li­cans he said have sur­vived much worse ac­cu­sa­tions.

“I of all peo­ple am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leav­ing while a man who has bragged on tape about his his­tory of sex­ual as­sault sits in the Oval Of­fice, and a man who has re­peat­edly preyed on young girls cam­paigns for the Sen­ate with the full sup­port of his party,” Franken said.

The 66-year-old Min­nesotan, a for­mer “Satur­day Night Live” co­me­dian who made a suc­cess­ful leap to lib­eral U.S. se­na­tor, an­nounced his de­ci­sion three weeks af­ter the first ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct emerged, but just a day af­ter most of his Demo­cratic col­leagues pro­claimed he had to go.

The ac­cu­sa­tions started last month when Leeann Twee­den, now a Los An­ge­les ra­dio an­chor, ac­cused him of forcibly kiss­ing her dur­ing a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan. She also re­leased a pho­to­graph of him with his hands at her breasts as she napped aboard a mil­i­tary plane.

Even­tu­ally, at least eight women ac­cused Franken of in­ap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual be­hav­ior.

Un­til this week, he’d said he’d re­main in the Sen­ate and co­op­er­ate with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his be­hav­ior.

The break­ing point came Wed­nes­day when a for­mer Demo­cratic con­gres­sional aide said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an ac­cu­sa­tion he de­nied. Hours later, another wo­man said he’d in­ap­pro­pri­ately squeezed “a hand­ful of flesh” on her waist while pos­ing for a photo with her in 2009.

Franken’s re­marks Thurs­day un­der­scored the bit­ter­ness many in the party feel to­ward a GOP that they say has made a po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion to tol­er­ate Trump and Alabama GOP Sen­ate can­di­date Roy Moore, who’ve both been ac­cused of sex­ual as­saults that they’ve de­nied.

In largely un­apolo­getic re­marks that lasted 11 min­utes, Franken said “all women de­serve to be heard,” but as­serted that some ac­cu­sa­tions against him were un­true. He called him­self “a cham­pion of women” dur­ing his Sen­ate ca­reer who fought to im­prove peo­ple’s lives.

Franken’s de­par­ture, which he said would oc­cur in “com­ing weeks,” made him the lat­est fig­ure from pol­i­tics, jour­nal­ism and the arts to be top­pled since Oc­to­ber. That’s when the first ar­ti­cles ap­peared re­veal­ing sex­ual abuse al­le­ga­tions against Hol­ly­wood ti­tan Har­vey We­in­stein and en­er­giz­ing the #Me­Too move­ment in which women have named men they say abused or ha­rassed them.

Demo­cratic Min­nesota Gov. Mark Day­ton will name a tem­po­rary suc­ces­sor, who will serve un­til a spe­cial elec­tion next No­vem­ber.

Among the pos­si­bil­i­ties for Min­nesota Gov. Day­ton’s tem­po­rary ap­point­ment is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a trusted Day­ton ally. The win­ner of a spe­cial elec­tion in No­vem­ber 2018 would serve through the end of Franken’s term in Jan­uary 2021.

Franken’s com­ments ap­pended a melan­choly coda to the po­lit­i­cal ca­reer of the one-time TV fun­ny­man who be­came one of his party’s most pop­u­lar and bel­li­cose lib­er­als.

Asked about Franken’s com­ment about him on Thurs­day, Trump merely replied, “I didn’t hear it, sorry.”


Al Franken, D-Minn., holds hands with his wife, Franni Bryson, as he leaves the Capi­tol af­ter speak­ing on the Sen­ate floor on Thurs­day.


This is the No­vem­ber 16 tweet by Leean Twee­den that ac­cused Sen. Al Franken of sex­ual as­sault. The fall­out from this and other ac­cu­sa­tions led the se­na­tor to quit Thurs­day.

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