Brzezinski Questions Validity of Accusations Against Franken: Am I Allowed to Say 'If It Happened?'

December 8, 2017

"Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski continued to express discomfort Friday with the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) over accusations of sexual misconduct, asking if she was allowed to ask whether the charges against him were even true.

Franken announced Thursday he would resign from the Senate in the coming weeks, but he did not apologize to the women who have accused him of harassment and even said some of the allegations were false.

New York Times writer Bari Weiss called the Democrats' pressuring of Franken to step down "very smart politics," saying it allowed them to claim a moral high ground as Republicans grapple with the sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and President Donald Trump.

The MSNBC panel discussed Franken's downfall without the "due process" of a Senate ethics investigation for such actions as allegedly squeezing women's rear ends and unwanted kissing in the context of cases of men like Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of decades of abuse and even rape.

"It's all bad," Weiss said. "I'm not defending squeezing someone's butt."

"But is there a difference?" Brzezinski asked.

"I think there is a difference," Weiss said. "I think that most Americans would think that there's a difference."

"Can we back up a little bit? That's if it happened," Brzezinski said. "Am I allowed to say that?"

"He's denying that it happened," Weiss said of Franken.

"Right, so am I allowed to say if it happened, or should we just assume it did?" Brzezinski said, as co-host Joe Scarborough tried to interrupt.

"The problem is in this climate, even asking if it happened is such a risky thing to do, and I think that's dangerous," Weiss said.

Brzezinski drew attention on Thursday when she tweeted, "This does not feel right" as Franken prepared to take the floor and announce his resignation.

Brzezinski, a Democrat, has not simply defended fellow Democrats in the past from charges of misconduct because of their party. She said last month that former President Bill Clinton was a "predator" who sexually harassed Monica Lewinsky in the White House.

On Friday, Brzezinski said she wished Franken's fellow Democrats had been more "transparent" about abandoning him in the context of Moore's election fight in Alabama.

Weiss said the atmosphere of believing all accusations of sexual misconduct against men to be true could bring down innocent people.

"Some people, some innocent people, are going to go down, and is that worth the price of bringing down the patriarchy? A lot of feminists right now are saying it's worth the price," Weiss said. "I'm uncomfortable with that."

"I am too," Brzezinski said.