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Regrets
July 22, 2019

Former Democratic Senator Al Franken says he regrets resigning from the Senate in 2018 after facing allegations of sexual misconduct, and some current and former senators regret asking him to do so.

Franken spoke to The New Yorker's Jane Mayer in a new piece published on Monday delving into the allegations against the former senator, who was accused in 2017 of inappropriate touching or kissing by eight women. Asked if he now regrets resigning, Franken responded, "Oh, yeah. Absolutely."

Franken said he wishes he had been able to appear before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, but he tells The New Yorker that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) demanded he resign or else he would organize the whole Democratic caucus to demand his resignation. A spokesperson for Schumer denied this threat was made.

"I'm angry at my colleagues who did this," Franken said, going on to say he "became clinically depressed" after leaving the Senate. He also placed blame on Schumer, saying, "Look, the Leader is called the Leader for a reason."

Mayer in the piece delves into the first accusation against Franken, which came from broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, who accused Franken of forcibly kissing her; she also released a photo of Franken with his hands over her breasts while she was sleeping. Mayer describes some apparent inconsistencies in the account as Tweeden described it, including that the USO skit Tweeden alleged Franken wrote just as an opportunity to kiss her had been performed previously. On Twitter, Mayer wrote that "almost NOTHING his main accuser said checks out."

In the piece, seven former and current U.S. senators said they now regret asking Franken to resign. But Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) defended her decision to call for Franken's resignation, saying, "I'd do it again today." Read the full piece at The New Yorker. Brendan Morrow

September 4, 2018

On Monday, Stephen Bannon was announced as one of the headliners at this year's New Yorker Festival, and a few hours later, he was disinvited after a number of participants dropped out of the festival. New Yorker editor David Remnick announced his decision to reverse course in an email to staff Monday evening. "The reaction on social media was critical and a lot of the dismay and anger was directed at me and my decision to engage him," Remnick said. "Some members of the staff, too, reached out to say that they objected to the invitation, particularly the forum of the festival."

Bannon, who was President Trump's campaign chairman and White House chief strategist after heading up Breitbart and Cambridge Analytica, responded with a mixture of flattery and insult. "The reason for my acceptance was simple: I would be facing one of the most fearless journalists of his generation," Remnick, he explained in a statement. "In what I would call a defining moment, David Remnick showed he was gutless when confronted by the howling online mob." In his note to his staff, Remnick said "there is a better way to do this" with Bannon and "if the opportunity presents itself I'll interview him in a more traditionally journalistic setting as we first discussed, and not on stage."

Comedian John Mulaney was one of the first guests to drop out. "I genuinely support public intellectual debate, and have paid to see people speak with whom I strongly disagree," he wrote on Twitter. "But this isn't James Baldwin vs. William F Buckley." Judd Apatow, Jim Carrey, Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff, and Patton Oswalt also said they would not share a festival with Bannon, and Jimmy Fallon — who probably did not spend Labor Day glued to his phone, wisely — tweeted that he was out of the festival after Remnick's disinvitation memo had already become public. Peter Weber

August 17, 2017

He made a name for himself supporting candidate, then nominee, and finally President Donald Trump in articles, television, and radio appearances, and also on his pro-Trump blog and quarterly journal. Now, Julius Krein is writing off Trump's "disgraceful administration," and urging "anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president."

In a New York Times op-ed titled "I Voted for Trump. And I Sorely Regret It," Krein said he was attracted to Trump during the campaign due to his "willingness to move past partisan stalemates" and because he "forthrightly addressed the foreign policy failures of both parties, such as the debacles in Iraq and Libya." Krein admitted he was aware that Trump's statements on immigration were "often needlessly inflammatory" and his "policy positions were poorly defined," but said he gave Trump "the benefit of the doubt."

Seven months into his presidency, and following Trump's remarks on Charlottesville, Krein said it's now clear his "optimism was unfounded" and Trump's "increasingly appalling conduct will continue to repel anyone who might once have been inclined to work with him." By the day, Trump's behavior is growing "only more reprehensible," and his administration has "no significant accomplishments," Krein added. While he pins some of the blame for Trump's disastrous presidency on the media and the Republican Party, "the administration has committed too many unforced errors and deserves most of the blame for its failures." Read Krein's entire op-ed at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

September 30, 2016

On Wednesday, the House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to override President Obama's veto of a law that will allow the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed reservations about the new law and said they were open to rewriting it to deal with problems that Obama had warned them about, and then Congress adjourned until after the November election.

McConnell blamed Obama for not warning Congress earlier. "I told the president the other day that this is an example of an issue that we should have talked about much earlier," he told reporters on Thursday. "It appears as if there may be some unintended ramifications of that and I do think it's worth further discussing." Obama had called McConnell about the bill on Monday, then sent him and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) a warning letter on Tuesday (Reid was the lone senator to vote against the override).

"Everybody was aware of who the potential beneficiaries were but no one had really focused on the potential downside in terms of our international relationships. And I think it was just a ball dropped," McConnell said. "I hate to blame everything on him and I don't; it would have been helpful if we had a discussion about this much earlier than the last week."

Senior officials, including CIA director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and Secretary of State John Kerry, had urged Congress not to approve the bill, because, as Obama explained in his Sept. 23 veto statement, it "could encourage foreign governments to act reciprocally and allow their domestic courts to exercise jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. officials — including our men and women in uniform — for allegedly causing injuries overseas via U.S. support to third parties." That was the concern Ryan raised on Thursday.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest rolled his eyes at Congress' "case of rapid-onset buyer's remorse," calling it "an abject embarrassment." "It's hard to take at face value the suggestion that they were unaware of the consequences of their vote, but even if they were, what's true in elementary school is true in the United States Congress," he said: "Ignorance is not an excuse." Peter Weber

August 19, 2016

Gold medal-winning U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte has apologized for his behavior at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro last weekend, when he and several other American swimmers alleged they had been robbed at gunpoint.

"It is traumatic to be out late with your friends in a foreign country — with a language barrier — and have a stranger point a gun at you and demand money to let you leave, but regardless of the behavior of anyone else that night, I should have been much more responsible in how I handled myself," Lochte wrote in an apology note on Instagram:

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

Lochte originally told media that he and three teammates had been robbed at gunpoint during a taxi ride back to the Olympic compound, but security footage from a gas station undermined that claim, showing the four being detained by armed security guards until they paid for damaging a bathroom door. USA Today's Christine Brennan reported Friday that Lochte's membership on the U.S. swim team was contingent upon his apology, and that a decision as to whether Lochte will be banned for life from USA Swimming could come after the end of the Rio Olympics, which close Sunday.

Lochte's U.S. teammate Jimmy Feigen agreed to pay $10,800 to a Brazilian charity to avoid prosecution. The other two swimmers, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, were reportedly allowed to return to the U.S. after giving "revised" statements to Rio police about what occurred that night. Police reportedly have considered charges of vandalism and giving a false statement. Jeva Lange

March 10, 2016

Marco Rubio admitted on Wednesday he's "not entirely proud" of the personal attacks he's leveled against Donald Trump, which ultimately led to the Republican frontrunner talking about the size of certain parts of his anatomy on live television.

"My kids were embarrassed by it, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn't," Rubio said during a town hall hosted by MSNBC. In the week before Super Tuesday, Rubio went into attack mode, going after Trump's hair, his tan (quipping that Trump will "make America orange again"), and the size of his hands and their correlation with the size of something else. During last week's Fox News debate, Trump assured the electorate shuddering at home that "there's no problem" in that department.

All of the talk was for naught; while Rubio did get attention for his remarks, it didn't help him at the polls. He announced at the town hall that if he doesn't get the nomination, he has no interest in being anyone's running mate, and would "absolutely" say no to Trump if asked to join his ticket. Catherine Garcia

January 19, 2016

Plagued by physical and memory issues, former Pittsburgh Steeler Antwaan Randle El is speaking out about the toll football has taken on his body, saying that if he could go back in time, he never would have started playing.

"I would play baseball," the 36-year-old, who famously threw a touchdown pass as a wide receiver during Super Bowl XL, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an interview. "Don't get me wrong, I love the game of football. But, right now, I could still be playing baseball." Randle El is having difficulty walking down stairs and remembering things, often having to ask his wife the same question multiple times. "I try to chalk it up as I'm busy, I'm doing a lot, but I have to be on my knees praying about it, asking God to allow me to not have these issues and live a long life," he said.

Randle El stopped playing in 2010, and went to Virginia to help start a Christian high school. After two years, the school's football program was cut due to costs, but Randle El said the risks are also increasing. "The kids are getting bigger and faster, so the concussions, the severe spinal cord injuries, are only going to get worse," he said. "It's a tough pill to swallow because I love the game of football. But I tell parents, you can have the right helmet, the perfect pads on, and still end up with a paraplegic kid. … It just comes down to it's a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week." Taking all of that into consideration, Randle El said he "wouldn't be surprised if football isn't around in 20, 25 years." Catherine Garcia

January 7, 2016

Joe Biden knows he made the right decision by not running for president, but he admits that still doesn't keep him from feeling disappointed he isn't. "I regret it every day," the vice president told an NBC affiliate Wednesday in one of the first times he's discussed his Oct. 21 announcement. After months of speculation, Biden decided not to run because, as his family grieved over the death of his son Beau, he said that his window for "mounting a realistic campaign for president" closed.

Still, Biden weighed in on the race once again Wednesday and renewed his pledge to remain "deeply involved." The veep panned the GOP contest as not "very illuminating." "You know the kinds of things that Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were saying were so inconsistent," he said. As for the Democratic primary, Biden applauded Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for "a real robust debate" — though he was quick to add, "as there would've been if I was in the race." Becca Stanek

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