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Al Franken Regrets His Quick Resignation

'New Yorker' takes a lengthy, skeptical look at the allegations that brought him down
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2019 8:15 AM CDT
In this Dec. 21, 2017, file photo Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., leaves a luncheon at the Capitol in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(Newser) – Al Franken has largely been lying low since his abrupt resignation from the Senate in 2017, but when he does venture out, he says it's common for someone to stop him on the street and give him some version of "You shouldn't have resigned." He typically responds with a "Yup" and moves on, he tells Jane Mayer of the New Yorker. And "when I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, 'Oh, yeah. Absolutely,'" writes Mayer. Franken wishes he would have been allowed to appear before the Senate Ethics Committee to refute the allegations of unwanted kissing and touching made by several women, but he says Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer flatly rejected his request for "due process." Seven current or former senators who joined the call for his resignation tell Mayer they now regret doing so. (2020 candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, a leading voice in calling for him to quit, is not among them.)

The story takes a long look at the allegations themselves, including the first one by Leeann Tweeden, who performed with Franken in 2006 on a USO tour. Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit just for her as an excuse to kiss her, then "stuck his tongue in my mouth." But Mayer reports that Franken had been performing that same skit for years with other actresses, who tell her the kissing scene was no big deal. (Franken denies the tongue part.) Mayer also talks to an anonymous congressional staffer whose accusation of an attempt at an unwanted kiss may have been the final straw against Franken. He says he's a touchy, show-biz kind of guy, and Mayer asks the woman if it's possible what she interpreted as a sexual advance was more of a "clumsy thank-you gesture." The woman responds that Franken's intentions were irrelevant. (Read the full story, with far more on the accusations.)

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