Van Hollen Dodges on Whether Franken Should Have Resigned

December 19, 2017

CNN anchors were unimpressed on Tuesday by Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen's (Md.) response to their question about whether Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) should have been pushed out by fellow Democratic senators.

Co-host John Berman referenced two Democratic senators having regrets about calling for Franken to resign or saying he should never have been pushed to resign in response to at least seven sexual misconduct allegations.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) told Politico on Monday that it was "atrocious" what Democrats were doing to Franken, and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) told Franken privately that he regretted his decision to call for his resignation, explaining that he felt rushed and didn't make a great judgment.

"Where do you stand on that right now?" Berman asked Van Hollen.

"Well, Al Franken made his decision. He announced his decision as you know. The Governor of Minnesota has now picked somebody to be the replacement and I have no indication from Al Franken that he plans to reconsider. so --" Van Hollen said, prompting Berman to reiterate his question.

Berman asked Van Hollen multiple times what he thought about Franken's resignation announcement. The Maryland Democrat said the question was one for Franken, deflecting away from the question.

The CNN anchor disagreed.

"It wasn't a question for him when all, you know, these Democratic senators, the majority, lined up beforehand and said he should resign," Berman said. "That wasn't a question for Franken then. That was a question for all of you, so I am asking now, do you think he should honor that?"

"I think he's made his decision and that's it," Van Hollen said.

Co-host Poppy Harlow said his response wasn't "really an answer on that one."

"Look, well, it is. Let's wait to hear from Al Franken, but I've heard nothing from Al Franken. I did not call on Al Franken to step aside," Van Hollen said. "I said he should do the right thing under the circumstances and I do believe we need to strengthen our ethics committee process to make sure that the public has more confidence in that process."

"Al Franken has made his announcement and I've seen no change at all," he added.

Van Hollen is not the only Democratic senator to dodge the question about their Minnesota colleague. Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.) dodged a question Monday about whether Senate Democrats were "foolish" to pressure Franken into announcing his resignation next month.

"I think Senator Franken made the judgment he thought was right. Each individual senator takes responsibility—" Cardin said before MSNBC's Katy Tur cut him off.

Tur said Cardin wasn't answering her question and then asked him again whether he thought the Democrats were foolish to pressure Franken into resigning.

"You have to ask each member who made statements on their own behalf on Senator Franken. They have to take responsibility for their actions. Senator Franken took responsibilities for his actions," Cardin said.