Al Franken says he regrets resigning from Congress over groping allegations; ex-colleague says he was 'railroaded'

Comedian and former U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., now regrets resigning from Congress in 2018 over groping allegations, and he spoke to The New Yorker about his experience for an upcoming piece.

The author of the article, Jane Mayer, said she asked Franken point-blank if he had any regrets about stepping down and he said he wished he'd taken his case to the ethics committee. “Oh, yeah. Absolutely," Franken said.

Mayer also interviewed seven of Franken's Senate colleague, who now regret their role in his resignation and have begun to second-guess their decision.

"Seven current and former U.S. senators who demanded Franken’s resignation in 2017 told me that they’d been wrong to do so," Mayer said.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said Franken was "railroaded" and claimed he is now troubled by the lack of due process.  “I made a mistake," Udall said. "I started having second thoughts shortly after he stepped down. He had the right to be heard by an independent investigative body. I’ve heard from people around my state, and around the country, saying that they think he got railroaded. It doesn’t seem fair. I’m a lawyer. I really believe in due process."


Al Franken resigned after this picture emerged.<br>

Al Franken resigned after this picture emerged.<br>

Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said: “If there’s one decision I’ve made that I would take back, it’s the decision to call for his resignation. It was made in the heat of the moment, without concern for exactly what this was.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said an ethics investigation  “should have been allowed to move forward.” "We needed more facts. That due process didn’t happen is not good for our democracy," she said.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who called for Franken to resign, said he’s “regretted it ever since” “There’s no excuse for sexual assault,” he told Mayer. “But Al deserved more of a process. I don’t denigrate the allegations, but this was the political equivalent of capital punishment.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said the process was rushed, while former Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., declared that mistakes were made.

Franken claimed his actions were without malice or forethought and said sometimes he loses focus on the social norms of the day.

“I guess maybe sometimes I’m oblivious.” he told Mayer, “I’ve been a hugger all my life. When I take pictures, I bring people in close. ... I used to be in show business.”

His former Senate colleague Chris Murphy, D-Conn., warned him of such behavior and said “that looks like something that will bring joy and happiness to a thousand families — until it ends your career.”


Franken also claimed he cannot go out in public without being reminded of his embarrassing exit from politics and public life. “I can’t go anywhere without people reminding me of this, usually with some version of 'You shouldn’t have resigned,’" he told The New Yorker.

"He appreciates the support, but such comments torment him about his departure from the Senate. He tends to respond curtly, 'Yup,'" Mayer wrote.