Eminent Republicans like 2012 Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Corey Gardner lined up to condemn Judge Roy Moore. Very few are doing the same to Democratic Sen. Al Franken.
Judge Moore, never a favorite among national Republicans, nonetheless appeared to have made a quiet truce with establishment leaders after roundly defeating their preferred Senate nominee, Luther Strange, in the September primary. All that came apart with the advent of sexual misconduct allegations against Moore, despite his consistent and emphatic denials and the lack of any conclusive evidence for any of the accusers’ stories.
Franken, by contrast, has, at least publicly, been a consistent political foe of virtually the entire Republican Party. He has, for example, been one of the leading voices passing the “Russia Story” election collusion narrative and has badgered populist Senator-cum-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for months on his accounts of brief meetings with Russian functionaries in an effort to discredit him. Members of the GOP establishment, however, have been much slower to declare Franken persona non grata in the wake a photograph showing him miming an indecent grab of sleeping then-model Leeann Tweedy on a 2006 USO tour of Afghanistan. Tweedy claims that, before the photograph was taken, Franken contrived a scripted kiss in order to force his tongue into her mouth in a rehearsal.
While none of the various accusers’ claims of victimization at Roy Moore’s hands have been proven, Mitt Romney was convinced the time for deliberation had passed. He tweeted Thursday, shortly after the first allegations against Moore broke in the Washington Post, that “innocent until proven guilty” did not apply in this situation, and Moore was “unfit for office.”
Innocent until proven guilty is for criminal convictions, not elections. I believe Leigh Corfman. Her account is too serious to ignore. Moore is unfit for office and should step aside.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) November 10, 2017
Only hours passed between the publication of the Post piece, in which Leigh Corfman accused Moore of attempting to have her touch him in a sexual manner when she was 14, and Romney’s twitter condemnation. After almost the same amount of time passed, Breitbart News reached out to Romney’s staff about whether he considered the Democrat Franken similarly unfit. Breitbart News received no reply, and Romney has yet to weigh in publicly about the Franken scandal.
Sen. Corey Gardner (R-CO) is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the first central Republican organ to withdraw support from Moore in his general election struggle, just one day after the Post story broke. Gardner himself has been even more emphatic than Romney, telling the press that, even if the voters of Alabama choose Judge Moore to represent them, the Republican controlled Senate should join with Democrats to expel him “because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate.”
Expulsion proceedings against Franken could be begun immediately, but when Breitbart News contacted Gardner’s office about whether he thought that would be appropriate for the Senate to do, it received no reply.
Other GOP Senators who have called for fellow Republican Moore to drop out remain silent on Franken, their colleague from across the aisle, despite inquiries from Breitbart News. These include Sen. John McMain (R-AZ), who said the Senate should “explore the various options” if Moore were elected; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who claimed she had spoken to Luther Strange about re-entering the race as a write-in candidate; and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who called on Moore to “step aside,” even as he admitted, “We’ll probably never know for sure exactly what happened.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in contrast to the establishment leaders named above, created some appearance of equity in his response to Franken. He called for an ethics committee review of Franken – the same fate he recommended for Moore if he were elected, writing in a statement:
As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who endorsed Moore before dropping him Thursday, also called for an ethics investigation, telling Breitbart News, “This is a matter that should be referred to the Senate ethics committee. I think it’s the appropriate way to handle that.”
Breitbart News Policy Reporter Sean Moran contributed to the reporting in this piece.