Politics

Richard Painter Won’t Back The Eight Women Who Accused Al Franken Of Sexual Harassment

Former President George W. Bush’s longtime lawyer, who is running for Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat, is unwilling to say whether or not he believes the women who accused former Democratic Sen. Al Franken of sexual harassment.

Richard Painter, 56, is listed a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in the state of Minnesota on the FEC website and has raised nearly $15,000 as of March 31.

The former W. Bush attorney went on MSNBC Monday to discuss his potential bid. Painter was met with a question about the eight women who brought sexual harassment allegations forth against Franken and was asked about his previous comments that the allegations could have been a “Roger Stone/Fox set up job.”

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“You said, ‘How much of this was for real, and how much of this was a set up job on Trumped up allegations,'” the MSNBC host told Painter. “Do you believe Al Franken is guilty of unwanted advances, or do you think this was a set up job?”

“I have no idea. I put a lot of those tweets out when I first heard about it. I continue to wonder why Roger Stone got a heads up about that information before Minnesota voters did. We are entitled to information. We are entitled to an investigation. We are entitled to know what happened when a senator is elected to a six-year term, he should be serving the six years unless we have an investigation that finds wrongdoing on the part of that senator,” Painter said.

The MSNBC host then pressed Painter on the fact these women went on record with the allegations and there was an elected official who was on stage with Franken, who tried to give her an open mouth kiss.

“I don’t know the facts … We should have investigations of such conduct. That type of conduct is unacceptable for a United States senator or anyone else. But we should find out the facts, not just have a resignation. We should find out the facts. And if we had found out the facts, we might have found out worse facts with respect to Sen. Franken. We might have found out a different story,” Painter explained.

“We might have found out why Roger Stone … why he was tweeting about that before anyone else did.”

Congress isn’t investigating facts and that is a crucial problem, Painter went on to say. There should be a full investigation regarding any claims against senators who are concerning, he continued.

“This election is not about Al Franken … This is about [President] Donald Trump and his abuse of power. We need to elect senators and representatives who are going to stand up to him. If people want to continue to talk about Franken and those allegations, that is what Trump wants you to do,” Painter told MSNBC.

MSNBC pressed Painter that Franken is important because he is the reason we are currently having a Senate election in Minnesota.

The former W. Bush lawyer continued to dodge the Franken question and claimed we should rather focus on the “tens of thousands” of women who are the victims of sexual harassment under similar situations. He wouldn’t comment on sexual harassment allegations unless it was investigated and we found out “the facts.”

Painter was the top ethics lawyer for the Bush White House from 2005 to 2007. He is currently a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Painter is on a leave of absence from CREW, which he announced in early March, coinciding with the launching of his exploratory committee for a potential Senate bid.

The former Bush lawyer has been a vocal critic of the Trump administration both on television and on social media, often using Twitter to point out instances he feels the president has failed in policy, leadership, or has displayed poor judgment.

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