When Senator Al Franken, amid calls for resignation from his fellow Democrats, announced that he’d be making an announcement on the floor of the Senate it was obvious that he’d strike a defiant tone.
People resigning in disgrace send out a press release. They don’t deliver a floor speech.
As expected, Franken was defiant. Not only is he continuing to deny the allegations against him (he has consistently denied them despite couching the denials in apologetic tones) he also didn’t actually resign despite headlines everywhere saying he did.
It’s more accurate to say that he announced his intention to resign. That’s an important distinction. Here’s video of Franken’s speech if you missed it:
Franken is leaving himself some wiggle room. He has set an ambiguous timeline for his resignation – “weeks” puts us into next year – and that allows him to get past whatever happens with the Roy Moore situation in the Alabama special election.
Democrats clearly had to address their Franken problem if they are to have any moral high ground to castigate Republicans should Moore, despite the multitude of credible allegations of sexual misconduct against him, be elected. They may even be thinking that Franken’s announcement today could help Democrat Doug Jones defeat Moore who enjoys a slim lead in the polls.
What Franken’s carefully worded speech did was give the appearance of resignation without the reality. Depending on how things shake out in the coming weeks, it could be that Franken doesn’t resign at all. And it wouldn’t be the first time a Senator pulled that sort of a gambit.
Back in 2007 Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a Republican, was charged with a crime after he allegedly solicited sex from an undercover cop in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis.
Craig initially announced his intention to resign, as Franken did, but ultimately finished his term. A voicemail made public in the media even documented Craig owning up to the tactic.
What Franken did today was not a resignation. It was the beginning of a series of political maneuvers which might end in his actual resignation. Or it might not.