Paul Kane of the Washington Post compares the reaction by leading Democrats to evidence of Keith Ellison’s domestic abuse with the reaction to evidence of Al Franken’s sexual touchings and harassment. He finds a disparity.
In Franken’s case, Sen. Kristin Gillibrand forcefully called for an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee within hours of the first accusation against the then-Senator. So did Sen. Kamala Harris. Both made it clear they would not give Franken a pass just because he was a leading liberal. “Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere against anyone,” Harris exclaimed.
But neither Gillibrand nor Harris has called for a congressional investigation of Ellison. According to Kane, no congressional Democrat has.
Harris says, “I know the DNC is investigating it, so we’ll see and let that run its course.” Gillibrand hasn’t even made a statement about the allegations against Ellison, and her press office has not responded to requests for a comment.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has also declined to comment. And when Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked if he had anything to say, he responded, “Nope, nothing.”
What are the differences between Franken’s situation and Ellison’s, and how do they cut. One difference cuts in Ellison’s favor. There was photographic evidence of some of Franken’s misconduct. In Ellison’s case there is none — just reports by alleged victims and/or their kin.
But credible reports are all that should be required for purposes of investigating. And the reports against Ellison include a 911 call, certainly credible evidence. There was no photographic evidence against Roy Moore, either.
Another distinction is that the DNC supposedly is looking into the allegations against Ellison, as Sen. Harris says. However, the Post’s Kane notes the difference between a “somewhat vague DNC ‘review'” and a congressional ethics investigation. Unlike congressional ethics committees, the DNC isn’t set up to conduct serious investigations. Moreover, Ellison is the number two guy at the DNC.
The most obvious distinction between the Ellison’s situation and Franken’s is that Ellison is accused of far more heinous conduct. Even in the “MeToo” era, beating one’s girlfriend correctly deemed much worse than anything Franken did. Franken’s misconduct consisted of low-level harassment of a colleague and inappropriate touchings of admirers who wanted to be photographed with the Senator. He didn’t beat anyone.
Rep. Ellison quite possibly did. Congress should investigate.
Another distinction between Franken and Ellison is that Ellison is Black. Race matters big time to Democratic politicians. However, John Conyers’ race didn’t protect him when he was accused of sexual misconduct. Nancy Pelosi initially defended him but, under pressure, quickly changed her tune. Conyers wasn’t accused of beating anyone and, like Ellison, denied wrongdoing.
There seems to be something special about Ellison even beyond his race — something that is causing Democrats not to want a congressional investigation of his conduct.
Is it his religion — Muslim? Is it the authenticity of his radicalism, manifested by his animosity towards Israel, his support for cop killers, and his associations with Louis Farrakhan? Al Franken seemed like an authentic leftist, but he hadn’t manifested his leftism in any of these three ways.
I don’t know why Democrats are skirting the issue of Ellison’s possible domestic abuse. But when the Washington Post calls out its favorite party for doing so, something is up. The Dems’ motives are worth exploring.
UPDATE: Here is distinction I should have noted. At the time of Franken’s travails, Democrats were intent on defeating Roy Moore in Alabama and, if that failed, running him out of the Senate due to his dating of teenagers and alleged assault of at least one them many years ago. By calling out Franken, they avoided charges of hypocrisy. There is no comparable imperative right now that necessitates calling out Ellison.