Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) said on Monday that he regrets not waiting for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate sexual misconduct allegations made against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) before calling on Franken to resign.
“I have stood for due process throughout my years as a prosecutor and in chairing the Judiciary Committee. I regret not doing that this time. The Ethics Committee should have been allowed to investigate and make its recommendation,” Leahy said in a statement.
Leahy initially urged Franken to step down on the same day that several female Democrats led a wave of senators to call on Franken to step down over the allegations that he groped or forcibly kissed several women.
“While the facts from case to case can differ, and while there are sound reasons for weighing evidence in such cases in a deliberate and carefully considered process, Senator Franken’s situation has become untenable,” Leahy said at the time. “I am concerned that even a prompt Ethics Committee investigation and recommendations will not come soon enough. He has to step aside.”
The day after several Democratic senators called on Franken to resign, he announced that he would step down, though he has yet to set an exact date.
Leahy’s public statement on Monday followed a comment from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) that it was premature to push Franken to resign and a Politico report that Leahy told Franken in private that he regretted calling on him to resign.