Ellison Dodges on Whether Conyers, Franken Should Resign: 'I'm Going to Ask Them Both to Examine Their Conscience'

December 4, 2017

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) would not say Monday whether he believes that fellow Democratic lawmakers Rep. John Conyers (Mich.) and Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) should resign over sexual misconduct allegations, instead calling on both men to "examine their conscience."

"Democracy Now!" host Amy Goodman asked Ellison, deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, whether Conyers and Franken should resign after several women came forward in recent weeks to accuse both lawmakers of sexual harassment.

"Well, you know, Amy, you know, here's the thing. I would ask every member of Congress, including those, to look inside their conscience and ask themselves just a few questions," Ellison responded. "Can you be effective? If you stood up your whole life to stand up for the rights of people—and both of them have—is it not a moment now where you apply some standards to yourself that you have asked others to live by? These are the questions. Can you be effective? Can you be there for your constituents at this point? These are questions that we all have to answer."

Ellison added that he hopes for a society in which every person, including women, can go to work and not be afraid of being harassed.

"I’ll tell you this. When this—I am hoping for a society where every person, women, can go to work and just do their job without any fear of being harassed, mistreated, treated like second-class-citizenship individuals," Ellison said. "And the social trends that are driving us, I think, are leading our society to a better place. So, you know, I'll trust that they will do the right thing for their constituents, for our country."

Goodman further pressed Ellison on whether Conyers should resign.

AMY GOODMAN: But specifically—

REP. KEITH ELLISON: —as we move forward.

GOODMAN: Specifically, should John Conyers resign?

ELLISON: I heard your question. I heard your question. I heard your question.

GOODMAN: So you're not willing to say that?

ELLISON: I'm going to say that I'm going to ask them both to examine their conscience and do the right thing for all of us—

GOODMAN: And, of course—

ELLISON: —and for their legacies.

Goodman then asked whether Ellison's response is the same for Franken, noting that both he and Franken are from Minnesota.

"And, of course, Senator Franken is your fellow congressional leader from Minnesota. You are answering—your response is the same for Senator Franken?" Goodman asked.

"Right," Ellison said.

Several women have accused Franken of inappropriately touching them and one woman said the senator forcibly kissed her. Former staffers for Conyers have accused the congressman of sexual misconduct, and in one case, he used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim. Conyers confirmed the settlement but has denied all allegations of misconduct.