Gillibrand: Female senators unfairly blamed for Franken exit

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, July 24, 2019

WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said Monday that she doesn’t regret calling for Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate and that female senators are being blamed for it in a way their male colleagues are not.

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine published Monday, Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, said he “absolutely” regrets resigning in January 2018, after Gillibrand, a senator from New York, and many of his fellow Democratic colleagues urged him to do so in the wake of a series of sexual misconduct accusations.

Speaking at a Bustle Digital Group event in Manhattan, Gillibrand offered her strongest defense of her actions to date.

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She said The New Yorker report, which raised doubts about some of the allegations against Franken, only focused on the first accusation by conservative talk radio host Leeann Tweeden and not those of the seven other women who accused Franken of misconduct.

“There really was no critical or investigative journalism or reporting on the other seven, and that certainly causes me pause,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand had for years described Franken as a friend and frequent squash partner, but she became the first Democratic senator to call for his resignation in December 2017.

She’s one of the Senate’s most outspoken members on issues of sexual harassment and military sexual assault and has made advancing equal pay for women, paid family leave and defense of abortion rights centerpieces of her 2020 White House campaign.