Democratic Sen. Al Franken resigned from Congress two weeks ago amid continuing sexual misconduct allegations. However, despite his replacement being appointed earlier this week, he’s yet to say when he’ll empty his Capitol Hill office and return to Minnesota, as he vowed after his Dec.7 resignation speech on the Senate floor.
“Tina Smith will make an excellent United States Senator. … I look forward to working with her on ensuring a speedy and seamless transition,” Franken said in a statement after the Minnesota lieutenant governor was appointed, with no mention of when he’ll leave.
In his resignation speech, Franken said only that he’ll be leaving in the “coming weeks.”
And multiple people on Capitol Hill, including those in Senate leadership, told Fox News that they doesn’t know when he’ll leave.
“I’ll be coming home,” was Franken’s only response to a Fox News question after his speech about future plans.
Franken was back at work this week, casting votes in the Senate, participating in a committee hearing, attending a senators-only luncheon with Democrats and even posing for a picture with a group of high school students.
The two-term senator, first elected in 2008, had initially intended to let a Senate ethics committee investigate the allegations against him. However, following a seventh claim made on Dec. 6 that said he tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006, several female Democratic senators – including New York’s Kristen Gillibrand and California’s Kamal Harris – called for his resignation, effectively forcing his departure from Washington.
Franken, in his speech, made note of his original plan regarding an ethics investigation that he thought would help. And he argued that “some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others, I remember very differently.”
The former comedian also suggested it was ironic that he was leaving elected office while President Trump remains in the Oval Office after bragged on tape about his history of sexual misconduct.
Such statements have led to speculation that Franken is having second thoughts about his next steps, or that he’s at least in no hurry to be run out of Washington, especially after members of both political parties have raised similar arguments.
Zephyr Teachout, a Democrat who ran for governor of New York, said in an op-ed in the New York Times that she was left with a sense of “something went wrong” when Franken announced he was stepping down.
“Zero tolerance (of sexual misconduct) should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality,” Teachout wrote. “Both were missing in the hasty call for Senator Franken’s resignation.”
She also said due process “means a fair, full investigation, with a chance for the accused to respond.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said the forced resignation “was a lynch mob.”
“Let’s not have due process,” he said. “Let’s not ask anybody any questions, let’s not have any chance to have a hearing, let’s just lynch him.”
Two other members of Congress have recently resigned, then left office after allegations of sexual misconduct.
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, 88, resigned roughly 15 days after such allegations surfaced. And Arizona GOP Rep. Trent Franks resigned and left office about a day after being informed about a House ethics investigation on him regarding alleged sexual harassment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.