Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has already been tapped to replace Sen. Al Franken once the embattled politician’s resignation “in the coming weeks” comes to fruition. Even so, a new Politico report suggests that many of Franken’s fellow Senate Democrats are now calling on the former Saturday Night Live star to reverse his decision and remain in place. In fact, some of the senators who have reportedly reached out to Franken are some of the very politicians who joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) when she and others demanded Franken step down following yet another reported instance of sexual misconduct.
According to Politico, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) told Franken “privately” he regretted issuing a statement calling for his colleague’s resignation. Another senator who spoke with the outlet anonymously said, “I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts.” This unnamed senator, who also spoke privately with Franken, added: “In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.” Aside from these two, most of the Democratic politicians who initially demanded the Minnesota senator step down remain “comfortable” with their public decision.
Those among them who did not demand Franken’s resignation, however, are not comfortable — especially Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Speaking with Politico openly, Manchin declared, “What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats”:
“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.’”
The West Virginia senator concluded with his hope that Franken ultimately reverses his resignation, and that other Democratic politicians who “regret” calling for it encourage him to do the same.