Buttigieg: I Would Not Have Pressured Franken to Resign

June 3, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday said he would not have applied the pressure Senate Democrats did when they called for then-Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) to resign in 2017.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, participated in a MSNBC town hall with host Chris Matthews, where he was asked during a lightning round about Senate Democrats pressuring Franken to resign.

"Al Franken—should he have been pushed to resign from the U.S. Senate by the Democratic Caucus? His fellow caucus members," Matthews said.

"I think it was his decision to make, but I think the way we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us," Buttigieg said.

"Do you think he should have been pushed to leave?" Matthews said, prompting Buttigieg to say the resignation was Franken's decision.

Matthews repeatedly asked if Democratic leaders placed too much pressure on Franken before Buttigieg directly answered.

"I would not have applied that pressure at that time before we knew more," Buttigieg said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), who is also running for president, was the first Senate Democrat to call for Franken to resign. Fellow 2020 contenders Sens. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and Michael Bennet (D., Colo.) released statements shortly afterwards calling for him to resign.

Gillibrand was asked about her decision lead the charge in the Senate to pressure Franken to resign during a Fox News town hall on Sunday, where she said, "I was not going to remain silent."

"I needed to have clarity on that and I was not going to remain silent. I couldn't defend it and I wasn't going to defend it. That was my decision," Gillibrand said. "Senator Franken’s decision was whether or not he wanted to resign, whether or not he wanted to wait to his next election. But if a few Democratic donors are angry because I stood by eight women including a young woman who works in Congress that's on them."

Gillibrand said afterward the "eight credible allegations" against Franken were not too high a standard to push for his resignation.