- Democratic Sen. Al Franken found some unlikely defenders — conservatives.
- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and a handful of conservative pundits criticized the process by which Franken was effectively forced out of the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota found some unlikely defenders after it became clear he would resign from his seat following a bevy of sexual-misconduct allegations — several prominent conservative pundits.
Most prominently among them was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said Franken was essentially taken out by a “lynch mob” after more than 30 Democratic senators called for his resignation on Wednesday following the latest accusation.
Gingrich, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, said on Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show Wednesday that Democrats were tossing Franken aside without any “due process” so they could appear to be “pure.”
“What you saw today was a lynch mob,” he said. “Let’s not have due process. Let’s not ask anybody any questions. Let’s not have any chance to have a hearing. Let’s just lynch him because when we are done, we will be so pure.”
He said that what Franken, former “Saturday Night Live” cast member was accused of doing was “the kind of things people in the entertainment business do.”
Ingraham cautioned viewers to be “wary” of joining such a “lynch mob.”
“Because tomorrow, it could be coming for your husband, your brother, your son, and yes, even your president,” she said.
Franken, first elected in 2008, announced his resignation on Thursday after several women accused him of groping or forcibly kissing them. In a Senate floor speech, Franken said he was “shocked” and “upset” by those allegations, claiming some were untrue while others he remembered “differently.”
The Minnesota senator said it was ironic that he was leaving the Senate while Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, occupies the White House. And he highlighted the accusations against Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is alleged to have pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s. He recently regained financial backing from the Republican National Committee and has seen support from the White House.
On her program, Ingraham said Democrats “determined” it was worth ousting Franken so they could claim the moral high ground against Moore and Trump.
“They have now determined that it is worth sacrificing Franken, just like they did John Conyers — throw him overboard to save the political Titanic that is their party,” she said. “What does this do? It sets the precedent for the Democrats to try to drive Roy Moore from office, should he win the Alabama Senate race. And two, this is the next step in the quest to impeach President Trump. The left is brilliant.”
“What if this happened to you?”
Ingraham wasn’t the only Fox News host to cast doubt on whether Franken’s ouster was a positive.
On his Wednesday night program, host Tucker Carlson suggested that his viewers should be cautious of celebrating Franken’s then-presumed resignation too much.
Though he said “good riddance,” Carlson quickly shifted to asking his viewers, “What if this happened to you?”
“Imagine being accused by someone whose name you didn’t know of something that supposedly happened more than a decade ago,” he said. “How would you respond? How could you respond? What if you were innocent, by the way? And what if nobody cared?”
Gingrich doubled down on his comments Wednesday, tweeting that by forcing Franken out, Democrats were moving against the will of Minnesota voters.
Franken 1,053,205 Minnesotans picked him for senate in 2014
30 self appointed ‘pure’senators want him out
What happened to popular vote
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) December 7, 2017
In an email exchange with HuffPost, Gingrich said Franken’s ouster was the latest example of “the totalitarian left … imposing its latest passion.”
“There used to be movies about lynch mobs and the emotional energy that builds and the lone marshall or sheriff who insists on due process,” Gingrich said. “But of course the totalitarian left believes in imposing its latest passion whether on wedding cakes, nuns, its own members in Congress or conservatives on campuses. This is just another manifestation of the emotional passions which resemble medieval flagelante in their desire to atone for something even if it is only the latest fad.”
Others joined in after Franken’s Senate floor speech.
Radio host John Ziegler — a “Never Trump” conservative — tweeted that Franken was “innocent” and “railroaded” out of office.
“The saddest/truest part of Sen. Al Franken’s speech was him realizing too late (just as I have said) that to treat accusers with respect & issue an apology, in today’s messed up world, gets misconstrued as a confession of guilt,” he tweeted. “This was an innocent man railroaded by his decency.”
Ari Fleisher, who served as White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, said Franken “should not have resigned.”
“His fate should have been left 2the people of MN,” he tweeted. “Moore, who had sexual contact w a 14-yr old, should drop out. Conyers, who hit on his employees, should have resigned. Franken is a creep who acted inappropriately, but his facts are different.”
And prominent conservative columnist Byron York of the Washington Examiner called what happened to Franken “kangaroo court justice of the college campus coming to” the Senate. York noted the difference between Franken’s ouster and the expulsion of former Republican Sen. Bob Packwood, kicked out in 1995 after a years-long Senate Ethics Committee investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.
“There’s reason to be concerned about what comes next,” he tweeted.