Al Franken's mark on government won't disappear just because he's leaving Congress. The current Minnesota senator will step down soon, but he's not leaving the ranks of the top federal lawmakers totally without lingering sexual harassment allegations against them. Specifically, Franken's resignation has led to several senators calling for Donald Trump's resignation as well. At least 19 women have accused Trump of sexual harassment, accusations which the president has denied at every turn.
Leading the charge is Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has called multiple times for Trump's resignation because of the similarities between his case and Franken's. “Here you have a president who has been accused by many women of assault, who says on a tape that he assaulted women,” said Sanders on Meet the Press, referring to the now infamous Trump Access Hollywood tape. “He might want to think about doing the same.” Sanders had expressed a similar sentiment previously on Twitter.
So far, no Republican senators have joined Sanders to call for Trump to step down — but Sanders is not alone amongst his Democratic colleagues. Joining him first was Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who said soon after Sanders that the seriousness of the allegations against Trump should make the president consider resigning. "The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct," Merkley said on Meet The Press, although Trump has of course denied the accusations of those 17 women.
New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker also called for Trump to resign while campaigning for Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones in Alabama, saying that Franken had done "the honorable thing" and that Trump would be right to follow suit. "My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward," Booker told VICE News. "The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken.”
The White House, however, has not given any signs that he's even considering the possibility, and in fact Trump has reportedly been privately questioning whether the Access Hollywood tape really does feature his voice — even though he owned up to the statements in 2016. Furthermore, one of Trump's accusers is trying to sue him for defamation after he denied her story — and his lawyers are attempting to get the case thrown out on the grounds that the current president can't be sued in a state court. While the wave of resignations after accusations of sexual misconduct has moved from Hollywood to the halls of Congress, it appears as though it has not yet hit the White House.
As he was announcing his resignation, Sen. Al Franken also pointed out the unbalanced nature of the situation. There is, he said, "some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”
Besides the Access Hollywood tape, Franken was also referring to Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama who has been accused of sexually pursuing teenage girls when he was in his thirties. Moore denies all allegations against him. While Republican leaders initially stepped away from him after the allegations came out, he has since regained both the financial support of the RNC and the vocal support of the president. Trump, after merely repeating Moore's denials, has now begun saying that Republicans in the Senate "need his vote."
For now, then, it seems that Democrats' calls for the president's resignation won't go anywhere — and Alabama will decide on Tuesday whether the allegations against Moore are enough to keep him out of the nation's highest legislative body.