It seems more than likely that, by the end of the day Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) will just be Al Franken, former senator from the great state of Minnesota. After new allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior against Franken emerged Wednesday, a slew of his colleagues in the Senate — led by Democratic women — called for him to resign. He’s scheduled an announcement for Thursday which seems more than likely to be intended to meet their wishes.
As we noted when the allegations against Franken first emerged, his position was made worse by an environment of seemingly constant and endless allegations against powerful men in American society. Among them, of course, are other politicians: Roy Moore, the Republican running for Senate in Alabama; former Democratic Michigan representative John Conyers Jr., until this week the longest-serving member of the House; and President Trump himself.
That spate of allegations and accusations has meant political leaders have been consistently asked to weigh in on new revelations, often meaning Republicans and Democrats are asked to opine on members of their own parties. The contrast in responses — particularly from Trump — are worth highlighting.
We’ve collected them below. We’ll begin with the two men who may or may not soon be in the Senate.
Trump. Despite the White House press secretary saying the allegations against Moore were concerning, Trump himself argued Moore should be given the benefit of the doubt.
“Well, he denies it,” Trump said. “Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And, you know, you have to listen to him also. You’re talking about, he said 40 years ago this did not happen.”
Trump tweeted about Franken.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). Schumer appears to have avoided talking about Moore, probably out of concern that doing so would allow Moore supporters to tie the Democratic candidate in that race more closely to D.C. Democrats. Of Franken, he gave a generic statement.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan hasn’t weighed in on Franken, but had harsh words for Moore.
“Number one, these allegations are credible,” he said. “Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). On Wednesday, Pelosi addressed the Franken issue with reporters.
“It’s a Senate matter, and I think they’re dealing with it,” she said at first. She then added, “I’m very proud of the fact that people are taking this matter head on and are trusting women who come forward, what they have to say.”
Trump. Trump appears to have only mentioned Conyers once during a news conference.
Ryan. Ryan called on Conyers to resign.
Pelosi. After a “Meet the Press” appearance in which she appeared to defend Conyers, Pelosi this week demanded he step down.
That allegations against Trump exist means it’s worth also including past comments from political leaders about the allegations against former president Bill Clinton.
Trump. Of the allegations against himself, Trump said in October they were “fake news.” His press secretary later confirmed the White House position is Trump’s accusers are all lying.
Clinton, however, received a different treatment.
McConnell and Ryan. The Republican leaders were both asked about the Trump allegations in the context of the race in Alabama.
Pelosi. Pelosi’s comments on Clinton came from an appearance on “Meet the Press” in 1998 in response to the investigation being conducted by Ken Starr.
“I’d like to say that I think that the women of America are speaking out about what they think about this whole situation,” Pelosi said at the time. “And the women of America are just like other Americans, in that they value fairness, they value privacy and do not want to see a person with uncontrolled power, uncontrolled time, uncontrolled — unlimited money investigating the president of the United States.”
Trump was also asked at a news conference this month about this unusual moment in which revelations of sexual misconduct are emerging regularly.
“Women are very special,” Trump replied. “I think it’s a very special time because a lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society, and I think it’s very, very good for women. And I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out, and I’m very happy it’s being exposed.”