Al Franken’s resignation speech made no sense. If he is innocent as he claims (he says some of the allegations were untrue and he remembers the rest differently than his accusers) and if he is as confident that the Ethics Committee would vindicate him as he says, he shouldn’t be resigning. Indeed, a duly-elected senator wrongly accused owes it to himself and his constituents to fight on — lies and mis-remembered accounts shouldn’t chase anyone from the Senate.
Franken tried to square the circle by saying that he couldn’t go through an ethics committee investigation and effectively serve Minnesotans at the same time. If this were true, every senator with an ethics claim against him would have to step aside. If this were true, Bob Menendez, who has been defending himself in a major criminal case for years, would have felt obligated to resign long ago.
A couple of things are going on here: 1) Democrats obviously want to clear the decks to get a clear line of fire on Roy Moore and Donald Trump, and Franken realizes he can’t stand in the way; 2) In the current environment in the Democratic party it is difficult to question the credibility of any accusers, so Franken would have just dug himself in a deeper hole by trying to defend himself (this is a dynamic that could lead to injustices); 3) Franken is pretty clearly not telling the truth in his denials, and that would have become even more obvious over time.
It’s true that what Franken is accused of isn’t as bad as what Roy Moore is accused of. But he’s a groper, who assumed he could get away with it because the women couldn’t or wouldn’t complain. This is a lousy thing. Surely, the state of Minnesota can come up with someone to occupy one of its two senate seats who hasn’t treated people this way and been dishonest about it.