Mar 16, 2018, 3:04 PM ET

Al Franken's replacement in the Senate said she wishes 'ethics process' for him had run its course

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The Minnesota senator who replaced Al Franken when he resigned after facing allegations of sexual misconduct said she believes he should have had the benefit of an ethics investigation before he stepped down.

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“I would have liked for the Senate ethics process to run its course, but, you know, that didn’t happen,” Democratic Sen. Tina Smith told hosts on "The View." “It was an extraordinary moment, and it was a really tough moment, too.”

Smith, previously her state's lieutenant governor, was appointed to Franken's seat when he left office in early January.

Franken announced his plan to resign in December, a day after a number of his Democratic colleagues called for him to step down amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that included groping and improper advances. He has steadfastly denied some of the allegations and said that he did nothing to dishonor the Senate.

"It's become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for [the people of Minnesota]," Franken said on the Senate floor on Dec. 7.

Smith said on "The View" that she is friends with Franken and his wife.

“Al was a champion for Minnesota, and he was a champion for progressive issues around the country,” Smith said.

As one of only 22 women now in the Senate, Smith said she feels a great responsibility.

PHOTO: Sen. Tina Smith (Minn.) on The View, March 16, 2018.ABC
Sen. Tina Smith (Minn.) on "The View," March 16, 2018.

“Women have all sorts of responsibilities and obligations in any job that we have, whether it's in the state senate, whether it is being in the news or wherever it is, I think we always have extra obligations. That's just the way it is. In my career I've spent a lot of time working on women's health issues and women's economic issues, so I feel that responsibility really strongly,” she said.

Smith is running for re-election to a full term as senator this year, and she said she believes voters in her state will decide the raced based on which candidate they want rather than on whether they support or oppose President Donald Trump.

She also commented on the victory this week of Democrat Conor Lamb in a special election for Congress in a district that went heavily for President Trump in 2016. Smith said Lamb won by “talking about base economic issues” and “what matters to people in their economic lives” such as child care and college debt.

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  • RobertJohns

    At the time, Democrats wanted to keep the moral high ground in the Roy Moore/Doug Jones Senate race in Alabama. Good choice or bad, Franken and his party associates made the decision themselves that it was his turn to go under the bus for the good of the party. Jones won, but it's anybody's guess whether sacrificing Franken helped get that result.

  • Lee-Anne Griffin

    I never liked Franken's politics in the slightest. However, I really believe he should have stayed in office until there was an investigation. The only real evidence against him was the picture and that was obviously just in jest. It was silly but it wasn't that terrible. I believe he was railroaded by events.

  • jared

    The Demo senators who pressed Franken to resign were worried that Roy Moore would win the Alabama primary a couple of days later. They wanted the morals issue to be most important and clensing themselves of Franken made being really, really strict about morality seem the way everyone should be.

  • JDC1

    Wait...so what she’s saying is that evidence and due process should have been followed before casting him off? What a novel idea.

  • Jan515

    I am not surprised Kristen Gillibrand threw Franken under the bus. After all the Clinton's did to help her, I see how she turned on them. And she thinks she has any chance to be the Dem candidate for President the way she throws folks under the bus.

  • Jack25

    Franken and Keillor innocent. Weinstein and Trump totally guilty. Let’s have the trials.

  • Lee Thompson

    She has principles . . . high fives to her.

  • thenitenurse

    It's a new age people. Women are now being educated in the fact that they don't have to go along with the old adage that "boys with be boys." We don't have to just take uncomfortable situations that men have put us in so we can continue working. So please understand that you need to be the polite little gentlemen that your mothers wanted you to be!

  • Ross Doob

    Just got done reading his book, "Giant of the Senate." An excellent read as well as a good education on how a campaign is run and the inner workings of the Senate. One of my favorite lines from the book - "I like Ted Cruz more than any other Senator, and I hate Ted Cruz!"

    I don't know how many of the accusations are true, but it sure seems he did a lot of good for the people of Minnesota. It seems too many Senators spend more time doing what is good for them or their rich donors, and not enough time focusing on the needs of ALL their constituents.

  • thenitenurse

    It's sad that we don't vet and run extensive background checks on everyone that runs for office before we allow them to be put on the ballot. In some cities people with prior criminal histories are allowed to run for office. Background checks should be made mandatory for all public office candidates especially extensive ones for high government office like the House, Senate, and Presidency. No one should be placed on the ballot until these checks are made. With the Internet and Social Media these days, people's entire lives are there out in the open. Make sure you have no serious skeletons in your closet before you run!

  • BD70

    Still mad Kirsten Gillibrand led the charge against him.

  • Lionel Stander

    Leeann Tweeden never would have been able to pull off this fake without the coordinated coaching and amplification from FOX News and Sean Hannity further amplified via Breitbart, and worst of all . . . Kirsten Gillibrand, who roped in the #MeToo movement - letting them get cooped by her presidential ambitions. That coupled with here stabbing her longtime mentor, Hillary Clinton in the back soured me on Gillibrand once and for all. Franken was one of our best. He was driven from office without a fair hearing. Even Tweeden was ashamed.

  • Prophet With Honor

    Franken did it the right way, it would have been a kangaroo court in the ethics committee anyway.

  • FlorMedDoc

    The absurdity of Franken leaving becomes obvious day after day. We have a sitting President who has been accused by 22 women of sexual assault not counting his illegal payoff to Stormy and another six women who just contacted Stormy's attorney.

  • Blue Wave

    While Frankens should have gone through the ethics process, I think he did the right thing so as not to cause even more distractions that we're already beyond dealing with.

  • jake

    Sorry. Al Franken on a bad day is better than any Trump on a best day.