Steyer on Franken and Gillibrand-Soros Feud: ‘I Didn’t Know That Was an Issue’

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Billionaire left-wing activist Tom Steyer seemed unaware that former Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) is considering a possible return to politics and that his resignation in January sparked a squabble involving prominent Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and billionaire Democratic donor George Soros.

During a Thursday morning appearance on MSNBC, anchor Hallie Jackson asked about Franken, as well as a public spat between Gillibrand and Soros concerning her past call for Franken’s resignation.

"One of the things that is part of a big discussion happening now inside the party is this issue of Al Franken and whether he should run again and the role that Kirsten Gillibrand has played in that," Jackson said. "Do you think Al Franken should run again? Is Kirsten Gillibrand, in your view, being unfairly maligned in calling for his resignation?"

"Oh my gosh – you know, I did not – to be fair, Hallie, I didn’t know that was an issue," Steyer responded. "You’ve just brought it up for the first time."

Earlier this week, Franken said he has not ruled out another run for public office. Franken resigned from Congress in January after allegations emerged that he inappropriately touched multiple women.

Gillibrand was the first Democratic senator to call for Franken’s resignation, although others quickly joined her. In a recent interview, Soros said he would not support Gillibrand if she runs for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election, and he accused her of attacking Franken to "improve her chances" of winning the presidency.

The New York senator fired back, telling HuffPost, "If standing up for women who have been wronged makes George Soros mad, that’s on him. But I won’t hesitate to always do what I think is right."

HuffPost interviewed additional Democratic donors who remain upset with Gillibrand. Rosalind Fink, a New York donor, called Gillibrand’s comments about Franken "self-serving" and "opportunistic," and she said "there is absolutely no way I will support her."

Another donor, Irene Finel Honigman, called Gillibrand’s actions "a big mistake." Honigman added, "I was not that impressed with her to begin with. I think she certainly had potential, but as for many people, this kind of sealed the deal."

Jackson provided Steyer background on Franken's comments about possibly running and the recent Gillibrand-Soros feud before he provided a lengthier response.

"As far as I'm concerned, the most important question in any one of these should-run or shouldn’t-run questions is what do the voters think?" Steyer said. 

"I think if he does run, this will be a question where his behavior and his past is fully vetted and they put it up to the citizens of Minnesota. To a very large extent, I think we should be asking the American people what they think instead of what a small number of people inside the party think," he added.

Jeffrey Cimmino

Jeffrey Cimmino   Email Jeffrey | Full Bio | RSS
Jeff Cimmino is a media analyst at the Washington Free Beacon. He is a senior pursuing a B.A. in history and a minor in government at Georgetown University. Prior to working at the Free Beacon, he interned at National Review and the Foreign Policy Initiative.

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