- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2019

Former Sen. Al Franken said in a profile published Monday that he regrets resigning from the Senate as a response to allegations of sexual impropriety.

The Minnesota Democrat, originally seen as a challenger to President Trump, resigned after a conservative talk show host accused him of kissing her without consent, which led to more women coming forward.

While Mr. Franken and his accuser called for an ethics investigation, no inquiry was ever conducted, and Senate Democrats pressured him to resign, instead.

“I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims,” he said to The New Yorker, adding that he gets reminded of how he rushed his resignation.

“I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of ‘You shouldn’t have resigned,’ ” he continued, saying he simply responds with “Yup.”

Many Democratic and independent senators also shared regrets in calling for Mr. Franken’s resignation, with many calling the rush to judgment a “mistake.”

Sen. Angus King of Maine said: “There’s no excuse for sexual assault. But Al deserved more of a process. I don’t denigrate the allegations, but this was the political equivalent of capital punishment.” 

Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon: “This was a rush to judgment that didn’t allow any of us to fully explore what this was about. I took the judgment of my peers rather than independently examining the circumstances. In my heart, I’ve not felt right about it.”

Mr. Franken’s resignation has become a hot button 2020 campaign issue. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she didn’t regret pushing for his ousting and said donors who were sympathetic to Mr. Franken were trying to “intimidate” her “into silence.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, of South Bend, Indiana, diverted from his fellow candidates, saying Mr. Franken was held “to a higher standard than the GOP” and added he wouldn’t “have applied that pressure” until more information was found.

• Bailey Vogt can be reached at bvogt@washingtontimes.com.

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