Al Franken, Who Resigned From Senate in Disgrace, Considers Running Again

Al Franken, a comedian who served as Minnesota's Democratic U.S. senator before resigning due to sexual misconduct allegations, has said that he considers the possibility of running for Senate again "tempting."

In a recent interview, Washington Post reporter Jonathan Capehart asked Franken if he would ever run for office again.

"I don't know," Franken answered. "I certainly loved my time in the Senate. I loved the job. I got a lot done. I was able to accomplish things I couldn't accomplish anywhere else, I don't think. So, yeah, it would be tempting to try to do that again."

"At some point?" Capeheart asked.

Franken responded, "Perhaps. I'm only 70." Franken then noted that Republican Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is also running for re-election at 88 years old.

Capeheart responded, "Well, you've got all the time in the world."

"Yes, I do," Franken responded, laughing.

Al Franken considers running for Senate again
Al Franken, a former 'Saturday Night Live' comedian who served as a Democratic U.S. senator for Minnesota, has said he considers the possibility of running for Senate again "tempting." In this photo, Franken speaks to the crowd during a gathering on November 4, 2008, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cory Ryan/Getty

In response to Franken's comment, Occupy Democrats, a grassroots political organization with over 251,400 Twitter followers, asked its followers to retweet their post if they supported Franken running again. After about one hour, the organization's post had over 3,300 retweets. The post's 206 commenters felt alternately delighted and opposed to Franken's possible return to politics.

"Every video I saw of him while holding that seat, he appeared thorough, prepared and remarkably sharp," Twitter user @MichaelStreiter wrote. "He should never have resigned and would be a real benefit to all Democrats to have him back."

Another Twitter user, @TIFFLS, wrote, "Not sure. I didn't/don't think he should have resigned. But, I lost a lot of respect for/trust in him when he did, and I'm not sure I want him back."

Franken resigned from his Senate seat on January 2, 2018, after eight women accused the senator of sexual misconduct. His resignation occurred near the start of the #MeToo movement, when women began making sexual harassment allegations against other high-profile men, such as film producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., TV journalist Matt Lauer and hip-hop producer Russell Simmons.

The first accusation against Franken came from Leeann Tweeden, a conservative talk-radio host, who posted a 2006 image of Franken making grabbing hands toward her breasts as she slept in military fatigues and a bulletproof vest. At the time, she and Franken were co-starring in a two-week United Services Organization (USO) show for military service members. She accused Franken of inappropriately tongue kissing her during a rehearsal for one of their sketches.

Tweeden, a Trump follower who supported the "birther" conspiracy theory calling on former President Barack Obama to publicly reveal his birth certificate, broke the news on a right-wing conservative radio station after considering the possibility of having Fox News help break her story.

In his apology to Tweeden, Franken wrote, "There's no excuse, and I understand why you could feel violated by that photo. I remember that rehearsal differently, but what's important is the impact it had on you—and you felt violated by my actions, and for that I apologize."

Tweeden accepted his apology, and said that she wasn't asking him to resign. However, seven more women—three who remained unnamed—came forward soon after, accusing Franken of inappropriate touching and attempting to kiss them without their consent.

Three dozen Democratic senators demanded Franken's resignation, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand being among the first.

"Senator Franken was accused credibly by eight women of groping and forceable kissing," Gillibrand said. "All were corroborated in real time. Two of them were since he was a senator. And the last one that came to light was a congressional staffer."

Not all of the accusations were corroborated, according to PolitiFact.

Ricki Seidman, a Democratic communications consultant who worked with Anita Hill as she brought sexual harassment claims to light during Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearings, criticized Gillibrand for demanding Franken's resignation.

"As a victim of sexual assault, you are cheapening my experience by leading a call for Senator Franken, who has been a champion for women, to step down based on the flimsy accounts that have come to light to date," Seidman wrote. "Knowing of far worse behavior in the Senate, and FAR worse behavior among Republicans like Donald Trump and Roy Moore, the fact that you are equating Senator Franken with them, I find abhorrent and INSULTING to women."

Nine current and former senators who demanded his resignation have since said that they were wrong to do so, according to Jane Mayer, a reporter for The New Yorker.

Most of the senators mentioned by Mayer said the allegations against Franken should have had been scrutinized by the Senate Ethics Committee or at least been subject to a fuller examination by an independent investigative body.

Franken said that Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told him he needed to resign or else he would be censured and stripped of committee assignments. Schumer and his Democratic colleagues denied him the privilege of due process, he continued, adding that major publications didn't vet his accusers' stories before repeating them.

In a statement to The New Yorker, Schumer said, "Al Franken's decision to step down was the right decision—for the good of the Senate and the good of the country. I regret losing him as a colleague but given the circumstances, it was inevitable."

Newsweek has reached out to Al Franken for comment.