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Kirsten Gillibrand says she does not regret calling for Al Franken’s resignation

Posted at 1:35 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 15:35:39-04

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday she has no regrets about calling for the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken over sexual misconduct allegations.

Gillibrand, the first Senate Democrat to publicly urge Franken to vacate his seat in late 2017, was responding to a question about a recent New Yorker article in which seven current or former Democratic senators said they were wrong in calling for Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, to step down.

“There is no prize for someone who tries to hold accountable a powerful man who is good at his day job,” Gillibrand said at a town hall hosted by Mic and Bustle Digital Group in Manhattan. “But we should have the courage to do it anyway.”

The New Yorker article centers mainly on the first of the series of allegations against Franken. Leeann Tweeden, a conservative radio host, accused Franken of groping her and kissing her without consent during a 2006 USO comedy tour. The story calls into question some of the details of those allegations. Seven other women came forward with similar accounts of unwanted touching or kissing.

Gillibrand said she took issue with some of the article’s reporting.

“It only talked about one allegation,” the New York Democrat said. “What about the seven other allegations? There was really no critical or investigative journalism or reporting on the other seven — and that certainly causes me pause.”

Franken’s decision to resign has been a contentious issue among Democrats. Some think he was ousted prematurely and should have testified before the Senate Ethics Committee hearing, while others believe he was treated fairly.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of Gillibrand’s fellow presidential candidates, was criticized in June for saying he wouldn’t have pushed Franken to resign when he did.

Still, Gillibrand — who has framed herself as the women’s candidate in the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field — has received pushback since calling for Franken’s resignation in 2017. She has defended her decision more than once on the campaign trail.

“I did not want to remain silent,” Gillibrand said during the town hall. “I wanted to stand by those eight women.”