Al Franken on Thursday announced that in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations he would resign "in the coming weeks." The Week notes that the phrasing caught some attention online, and NBC News/MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki touches on one slightly out-there theory on Twitter. "I doubt it for many reasons, but the cynical read would be that 'in the coming weeks' is Franken buying time to see if circumstances somehow change," he tweets (with others on Twitter speculating Franken potentially wants to see the outcome of the Roy Moore-Doug Jones race in Alabama). He notes that "it wouldn't be entirely without precedent: Larry Craig reneged on a resignation announcement in 2007," and Kornacki tweets an article to that end. Though "in Craig's case, his term was up the next year and he just served out his term and didn't run. Franken's seat isn't up till 2020," Kornacki acknowledges.
- Other words: At CNN, Chris Cillizza is bowled over by a different set of words from Franken's speech. These: "I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently." Cillizza calls it "a remarkable statement" in that Franken both upheld women's right to voice their claims and adamantly stated those claims aren't true. His take: "Franken's speech was defined primarily by his lack of any real apology and the clear bitterness he carries for being pushed out."
- Why Franken bowed out: Politico asks and answers that question, saying Democrats have to go into 2018 unblemished. If the albeit challenging goal is to flip the House, then women are going to have to come out in droves, and that means being able to "look at them with a straight face and say we’re the party that cares about them," as the chairman of Priorities USA tells the site.
- Echoing that: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board had this to say Wednesday night, "This is what the state of play looks like: The Democrats are eliminating their stains, while the Republicans are endorsing theirs. You have to believe in magic to think this is going to end well for Republicans."
- Democrats can afford to: Writing for the Washington Post, Callum Borchers points out the Democrats' move isn't much of a gamble, in that the retiring John Conyers hails from a blue district and Franken's seat will be filled by the Democratic governor until a special election takes place. "In other words, Democrats can lose Franken and Conyers without losing representation in Congress."
- The GOP response: At Vanity Fair, Abigail Tracy sees a counter-effort underway, noting that in the hours before Franken's resignation, some GOPers aligned with President Trump and Moore leaped to Franken's defense. She flags comments made by Laura Ingraham and Newt Gingrich, who called the process a "lynching" and noted due process wasn't being served. Borchers takes notice at the Post, writing, "By defending Franken now, conservative pundits... seem to be positioning themselves to more credibly stand up for Republicans in the future." If Moore wins, they can throw their support behind him—just, they'll be able to argue, like they did for Franken.
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