Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks to reporters at a news conference outside the Capitol on June 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty

Why Trump’s new criticisms of Al Franken matter


Donald Trump campaigned in Minnesota last night, where Republicans face an uphill climb in several statewide contests, including two U.S. Senate races and a gubernatorial campaign. The president’s message was largely predictable, though his comments about former Sen. Al Franken (D) came as a bit of a surprise.

In context, Trump was talking about appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D), Minnesota’s former lieutenant governor, whom the president apparently did not know.

“Nobody knows who the hell she is. Who is she? She was appointed; she took a wacky guy’s place. He was wacky. Boy, did he fold up like a wet rag, huh? Man. Man. He was gone so fast.

“I don’t want to mention Al Franken’s name, so I won’t mention. He was gone so fast. It was like, ‘Oh, he did something.’ ‘Oh, oh, oh, I resign, I quit, I quit.’”

The comment offered an interesting insight into Trump’s perspective. In his mind, the problem with Franken isn’t that he allegedly groped women; rather, the problem with Franken is that he stepped down after being accused of allegedly groping women.

The New York Timesreport on the rally noted, “The remark was in keeping with Mr. Trump’s long-stated personal mantra of never giving in to any accusation, and considering those who do to be weak.”

Exactly. Trump’s playbook only has one page, and it calls for attacking, evading, and distracting. If Al Franken has responded to misconduct allegations by lashing out at his accusers, blaming Republicans, concocting conspiracy theories, and trying desperately to change the subject, that would have earned the president’s respect.

The alternative, according to Trump, is for losers.

Why did Brett Kavanaugh appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week with an enraged and combative posture, peddling conspiracy theories, making vague threats, and condemning Democrats? The answer continues to come into sharper focus.

The Washington Post’s overnight report added, “ ‘You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women,’ Trump previously told a friend facing sexual assault allegations, according to Bob Woodward’s book ‘Fear.’”