In an emotional interview with The New Yorker magazine, disgraced former Minnesota senator Al Franken said he has suffered from depression and he “absolutely” regrets resigning.
The ex-Saturday Night Live star said that his exit from office was too abrupt and that there should have been a proper ethics investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct. Those allegations forced Franken to resign from the Senate in 2017.
In late 2017, a photo surfaced of Franken pretending to grab talk show host Leeann Tweeden’s breasts while she slept on a 2006 USO tour. Tweeden also alleged that Franken forcibly kissed her while rehearsing a sketch.
Franken responded to the claims and said that it was “impossible to explain the context of the goofing around everybody had been doing.”
His apology was heavily criticized. He then released another apology with a stronger sentiment.
“I was in shock, and I wasn’t thinking as clearly as I should have,” Franken told The New Yorker. “You feel very trapped. And the press was just reporting it as she said it.”
Since then, seven women accused Franken of inappropriate behavior and touching.
The allegations came in the thick of the #MeToo movement that took down movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, according to The Washington Post.
— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) July 22, 2019
When Franken resigned, he said that “all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously” but claimed he had done nothing to bring “dishonor” on the Senate.
After stepping away from the spotlight, the former senator said he stopped taking calls and rarely communicated with friends and family.
“It got pretty dark. I became clinically depressed. I wasn’t 100% cognitively. I needed medication.”
— Chuck Woolery (@chuckwoolery) November 16, 2017
Franken pointed out a double-standard that has allowed President Donald Trump to remain in office, according to the Daily Mail.
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits the Oval Office,” said Franken.
Since his semi-voluntary ouster, seven of the 36 current and former U.S. senators who originally called for Franken’s resignation have said that they now regret their actions. Vermont senator Patrick Leahy, former North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp, Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth, Maine senator Angus King, Oregon senator Jeff Merkley, former Florida senator Bill Nelson, and New Mexico senator Tom Udall told The New Yorker about their regrets and how they feel the situation could have been dealt with differently.