He was careful this morning not to admit to any wrongdoing, merely saying that he’d lost the confidence of his colleagues and therefore had to go. Imagine now that Moore wins and, as expected, McConnell’s caucus immediately starts hemming and hawing about whether he should be expelled. Some Republicans will deflect by insisting that the ethics committee should look into the allegations against Moore but many more will chime in on a soon-to-be common refrain that “the people have spoken.”
The GOP will have rubber-stamped a senator accused of much worse than the departing Franken is accused of.
Despite their momentary ardor for cleansing Congress of creeps, rank-and-file Democrats won’t like that one bit. Why does their guy have to go when the Republicans’ guy doesn’t? He’s confessed to nothing, even in the course of resigning. Congressional Democrats will be leery too, having set a relatively low bar for disqualifying misconduct in making an example of Franken.
No violent assaults, no examples of workplace harassment, some groping which Franken himself insists was innocent contact, and no process for determining the credibility of the allegations. Some Dems will inevitably be accused of worse than what Franken has been accused, possibly in the next few weeks before he’s left the chamber, and the party will have no choice but to push them out too to honor the Franken precedent.
The obvious question arises: Did Franken delay his exit from the Senate this morning because he thinks the political winds are about to change rapidly, in time for him to withdraw his resignation?
And if so, did the “brave” Democrats who pushed him yesterday to resign do so knowing that Franken would leave himself a few extra weeks until after Alabama votes, time enough to walk back his resignation under more favorable political circumstances? It’d be unbelievably cynical if Schumer et al. pounded the table for Franken to go expecting that he wouldn’t have to follow through if Moore is elected.
Franken could give another floor speech in a few weeks insisting that after having deliberated further and listened to the many, many, many Republicans chanting “the people have spoken” in defense of Moore, the only proper thing for him to do is to let the people of Minnesota render their own verdict on him in 2020. In the meantime he’ll fully comply with the ethics committee’s investigation into his behavior, just as Moore will be expected to do.