Democrats silent on whether Trump should resign over sexual assault allegations

Only seven Democratic senators have spoken out publicly.

President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, in Washington. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Last week, amid mounting sexual harassment allegations, three dozen Democratic senators called for Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign. In total, eight women had accused Franken of sexual misconduct, claiming that he had groped them during photo-ops or forcibly kissed them. Franken’s colleagues had apparently had enough. Twenty-four hours later, Franken was on the Senate floor announcing his resignation.

Twice as many women — whose allegations span decades — have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct. One woman accused Trump of groping her on a flight in the 1970s. Another woman, a former employee, says Trump forcibly kissed her when she introduced herself to him at Trump Tower in the mid-2000s. A former Fox News anchor alleges Trump tried to forcibly kiss her, too, around the same time. A pageant contestant has also claimed that Trump made a habit of walking backstage into the Miss USA dressing rooms while women were changing, and “inspected them” upon first meeting them.

The stories go on and on.

So why aren’t Democrats calling for Trump — whose accusations continue to mount — to resign with the same vigor they called for Franken, a friend and party star, to step aside?

Both privately and publicly, some Democrats have said they believe the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian election meddling and possible Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin needs to run its course before Democrats push for Trump to resign or vote for impeachment.

“We ought to let Mr. Mueller complete his full investigation rather than engage in what would essentially be a public relations stunt,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) said last week when Rep. Al Green (D-TX) made a bid to impeach Trump. “This is a serious thing. It ought not to be done on a whim.”

With Franken on his way out and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — who was also facing a firestorm of sexual harassment accusations prior to his departure — gone, Democrats have a clear path to at least try and hold Trump to the same standard, but the desire to focus on Mueller puts the party in a bind.

Seven Democratic senators who called for Franken’s resignation have also publicly called for Trump to resign in the face of mounting sexual harassment allegations. ThinkProgress reached out to each of the other 30 Democratic senators who called on Franken to resign over sexual harassment allegations to ask whether they believed Trump, like Franken, should resign. Only seven offered on-the-record comments after repeated requests, and just one, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) of them joined calls for Trump to resign.

“Sen. Brown is grateful to the women who have had the courage to come forward and he believes Congress should create a formal process for them to be heard and have their claims investigated,” a spokesperson for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said in an email to ThinkProgress. “Senator Brown voted against President Trump and campaigned against him for many reasons, including these allegations.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) said the senator supports an investigation into the allegations against Trump, but didn’t respond when pressed on whether the senator believes Trump should resign. After publication, a spokesperson for Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) said the senator also supports an investigation, but did not say he believes Trump should resign, and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) said in a statement to ThinkProgress that the women “deserved to be heard,” and that Trump was “addicted to power” and “unfit to serve.” He did not go so far as to say Trump should resign.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) office said in an email that Leahy has “made comments in Vermont and in the Capitol hallways on this, generally, but he hasn’t issued a written statement.” Leahy’s spokesperson added that he didn’t think a written statement would be possible on ThinkProgress’ deadline and did not respond when asked for clarification about Leahy’s earlier comments.

A spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emailed an earlier quote from the leader saying he would not discuss calls in his caucus for Trump to resign.

The remaining 26 requests for comment on whether Trump should resign went unanswered.

Here’s what the seven Democratic senators who have called for Trump to resign have said. (This story will be updated if or when other legislators respond.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

“We have a President of the United States who acknowledged on a tape, widely seen all over this country, that he assaulted women,” Sanders said last Thursday on CBS, referring to the notorious leaked Access Hollywood video in which Trump can be overheard talking about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

Sanders went on, saying, “So I would hope that maybe the president of the United States would pay attention to what’s going on and think about resigning.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
“The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct,” Merkley said on MSNBC last Thursday.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
“I just watched Sen. Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is, why isn’t Donald Trump doing the same thing — who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward. The fact pattern on him is far more damning than the fact pattern on Al Franken,” Booker said in an interview with VICE News Sunday.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
“President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign,” Gillibrand said on CNN Monday. “These allegations are credible; they are numerous… I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.”

(Her comments sparked a feud with Trump, who attacked Gillibrand on Twitter Tuesday morning.)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
“These women are right,” Wyden tweeted Monday afternoon along with an article about Trump’s accusers. “If [Trump] won’t resign, Congress must investigate allegations by many, many women that he sexually assaulted and harassed them. No one is above the law.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
“He’s a misogynist and admitted sexual predator and a liar,” Hirono told NBC Tuesday. “The only thing that will stop him from attacking us, because nobody is safe, is his resignation.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
“President Trump’s documented history of sexual harassment and assault should have been disqualifying during last year’s election,” Casey told ThinkProgress in a statement Wednesday. “His offensive verbal assault against Senator Gillibrand yesterday demonstrate he still doesn’t get it. And while he should resign, we know he won’t. I support a congressional investigation in order to hold him accountable for his actions.”