Politics

Franken’s Turn: House Dems Say Alleged Groper Should Follow Conyers Out The Door

Three House Democrats now have said that Democratic Minnesota Sen. Al Franken needs to resign following a flood of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan and New York Rep. Joe Crowley both said on Thursday that Franken needs to step down. Six women have now accused Franken of sexual harassment, five of whom have accused him of groping their butts or breasts.

Democratic New York Rep. Kathleen Rice, who was also the first Democrat to demand Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers’ resignation, called on Franken to resign on Monday.

After facing fierce criticism for defending Conyers as an “icon,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backtracked and called for his resignation on Thursday.

“I agree with Pelosi. Conyers should resign. And for that matter, Franken should resign too,” Ryan said in a statement posted to Twitter. “These are credible allegations, and I believe these women. Congress should set the example for all industries and be a safe place for women to work.”

“I think it’s time for Sen. Franken to go,” Crowley, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, told Politico. “In my opinion I think it’s time for John to resign. And I think under the circumstances, given the new revelations about the senator as well, I think it’s time for both of them to go.”

When asked on Monday if she thought both Franken and Conyers should resign, Rep. Rice said, “I think they should. I think that’s what most people feel would be an appropriate consequence for these elected officials.”

Franken has repeatedly claimed that he doesn’t remember any of the groping incidents, other than the one that was caught on camera. (RELATED: Al Franken’s Evolving Responses To Sexual Harassment Allegations)

The senator has said that he doesn’t know if more accusers will come forward but has indicated that he has no plans to resign.

A lawyer for Rep. Conyers, who allegedly sexually preyed on his female staffers and demanded sexual favors from them, defended his client by comparing the allegations against Conyers to those against Franken.

“At the end of the day, I would suspect that Nancy Pelosi is going to have to explain what is the discernible difference between Al Franken and John Conyers,” said Arnold Reed, Conyers’ attorney. “That is a question that she is going to have to answer.”

The three House Democrats’ calls on Franken to resign, combined with the party turning on Conyers, will increase the pressure on other Democrats to give Franken the same treatment.

Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Senate in 2018, initially went on record saying he would defer to the Senate Ethics Committee instead of calling on Franken to resign. O’Rourke downplayed the allegations against Franken, calling them a “different level of behavior” than the allegations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Full disclosure: Kathleen Rice is a distant family relative of this reporter.