The Democratic senator said on Thursday morning that he will resign from the Senate in “coming weeks.” “I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” he said, before adding that Minnesotans deserve a senator who can dedicate “her” energy to representing their concerns. But the rest of Franken’s speech suggested that he hasn’t really come to terms with the accusations against him.
“All women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously,” he said. But he made it very clear that he was resigning reluctantly, and that he still believed that the Ethics Committee was the right “venue” to investigate the claims made against him. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently,” he asserted.
He described himself as an advocate for women and said, “I did not want to grow up wanting to be a politician. I came to this relatively late in life. I had to learn a lot on the fly, it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always fun. This is hard thing to do with your life. There are a lot of long hours and late nights and hard lessons. And there is no guarantee that all your work and sacrifice will pay off.”
There isn’t, of course, even for politicians who never abuse their power. But Franken did abuse his power, first as an entertainer and later as a senator. And though Franken’s alleged actions don’t put him the same category as Roy Moore and Donald Trump, eight women have come forward to say he made their lives more difficult, more painful, than they ever needed to be. There is a vanishingly slim chance that these women are all liars, or that their memories simultaneously failed them.
Franken will “be fine,” as he said today. But his legacy is another matter.