Cardin Won't Say Whether Franken, Conyers Should Resign, Calls Sexual Misconduct Accusations 'Extremely Serious'

November 21, 2017

Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) would not say on Tuesday whether his fellow Democratic lawmakers Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) and Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) should resign over the sexual misconduct allegations levied against them, despite calling the accusations "extremely serious."

CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and John Berman pushed Cardin on how the House and Senate should punish lawmakers who are accused of sexual misconduct, asking whether Franken and Conyers should continue to serve in Congress.

"I just heard about Congressman Conyers' issue. These allegations are extremely serious and must be dealt with in a very serious manner," Cardin said.

BuzzFeed News first reported on Monday that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not "succumb to [his] sexual advances." Multiple women have accused Franken of groping them without consent.

Cardin went on to say that the House and Senate Ethics committees should investigate such natters and determine what actions should be taken.

Berman then asked at what point Congress should take action to remove lawmakers who are accused of sexual harassment or assault.

"Well, I think the reputation of Congress is critically important and we all have a responsibility, those that have been given public trust to act in a way that represents that trust," Cardin said. "When you use that power to try to take advantage of a woman, that's unacceptable and it must be very clear that's unacceptable."

Berman asked Cardin again whether Franken and Conyers should be removed from Congress.

"As you pointed out a little bit earlier, there's gradations of issues here. I think it's up to the Ethics Committee to try to develop the appropriate way that we can deal with these cases," Cardin said. "Clearly, there may be others, and I think we need to have standards that are very clear."