At least four lawmakers, including two who previously called for Franken’s resignation, are urging Franken to reconsider.
“What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, himself a Democrat, told Politico. Manchin urged Franken not to step down before he made the decision to resign.
There is no official date for Franken’s exit, he said he would resign “in the coming weeks,” but Minnesota Democratic lieutenant governor Tina Smith was already named by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton as his replacement.
Franken is expected to formally resign early next month. He praised the choice of Smith as his successor and Politico reports that he has begun to work with her on the transition.
But Manchin is still hoping Franken reconsiders, and complained about what he called “hypocrisy” among Democrats who called for him to resign before gathering on the Senate floor to watch his resignation speech.
“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.
“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,’” 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,’” he added. “That’s the human and decent thing to do. If they have any decency in them, they’d do that. Every one of them that signed for him to go out —including Chuck Schumer — should do that.”
Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy, who called for Franken’s resignation, has reportedly privately told Franken that he regrets doing so.
“I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,” another senator who called for Franken’s resignation but now regrets it told Politico. “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.”
The senator asked Politico not to be named. Politico reports that two of the senators who called for Franken’s resignation “felt rushed to weigh in, as they were focused on hearings and other meetings and pressure on Franken mounted. In retrospect they said they signed off on statements without the appropriate care and thought.”
But the senators’ and Manchin’s views are not necessarily representative of the Democratic Party as a whole.
“Schumer and the vast majority of the caucus like Sen. Franken and will miss him,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Politico, “but did what they felt was best and stand by it.”