Al Franken on Principles & Values

DFL Jr Senator (MN)


Investigate Russian election-hacking & Trump financial ties

Q: Michael Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about Obama's Russia sanctions before President Trump took office, suggesting, "we will revisit them after we take office." [He then denied that]. What should the consequences be?

FRANKEN: Well, either he was lying about not having discussed that or he forgot. I don't think you want a guy as national security adviser who would forget that. I don't think you want a guy in either of those scenarios to be in that position.

Q: So, what do you think should happen?

FRANKEN: There's going to have to be an independent investigation into the Trump administration's relationship to Russia. Russia interfered in this campaign, although Trump denied it for a long time. His [tax returns would show if] money was coming in from Russia investing. The president said that he couldn't release his income tax because he was under audit. You can release your income tax when you're under audit. We need to have an independent investigation on it.

Source: CNN "State of the Union" 2017 interview by Jake Tapper , Feb 12, 2017

Recount: What do we want? Patience! When do we want it? Now!

[During the Great Minnesota Recount]: "What do we want?" Franken shouted to the supporters in the auditorium.

"Patience!" the troops responded.

"When do we want it?" the underdog trailing by 215 votes asked again.

"Now!" they replied.

"Patience now." That was a purposely oxymoronic notion, but it was an appropriate call-and-response for all that was in store over the next seven weeks of the recount.

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 47 , Sep 16, 2010

Spent $20M on campaign; more for Great Minnesota Recount

Al Franken's list of contributors was hundreds of pages in the Federal Election Commission's files detailing nearly 14,000 names and about $20 million to back the rookie candidate. A browse through the list revealed donors such as musician Don Henley of the Eagles rock bank, TV journalist Jane Pauley, financier George Soros, movie mogul David Geffen, husband-and-wife actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, and film star Michael Douglas, to name a few. As the recount effort got underway, with Franken needing volunteers and staff at 106 different locations statewide to monitor the hand counting of nearly three million ballots, even more money was needed.

On Nov. 15, eleven days after Election Day and four days before the Great Minnesota Recount was set to begin, more than 1,000 volunteers descended to receive training on how to monitor elections officials' actions, how to collect critical data, and how to challenge ballots.

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 46 , Sep 16, 2010

OpEd: Franken should have beaten Coleman easily in blue MN

The landscape of the postelection battle was quickly beginning to take shape, and the recount was but one full day old. Franken seemed to own a bit of momentum. The numbers were sure to change over the next few weeks, but one immutable fact couldn't be denied, one piece of data couldn't be spun, one question still could not be answered. In a blue state, with a charismatic progressive presidential candidate at the top of the ticket, against a flip floppy Bush supporter who had been accused of being linked to corruption, Al Franken, with a $20 million treasury, garnered about 42% of the vote. Why couldn't he knock off an incumbent as vulnerable as Coleman? Why had it all come to this?
Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 63 , Sep 16, 2010

2005: Formed progressive Midwest Values PAC

Franken formed (in 2005) his Midwest Values Political Action Committee, which soon raised more than one million dollars for progressive candidates nationwide.

With his New York and Hollywood pals, his great sense of humor, his chutzpah and celebrity, raising funds was Franken's strength. Sculpting a major-league campaign that could lift the Democrats to a filibuster-proof majority was not.

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 68 , Sep 16, 2010

Decided to take on Coleman when he berated Paul Wellstone

After living for three decades in New York, Franken had moved back to Minnesota in 2005 with the Senate seat in mind and Coleman in his sights. In 2003 Franken's ideological, and sometimes name-calling, campaign against Coleman began. Just three months after formally assuming Wellstone's seat, in a story noting Coleman's rapid rise to prominence among Republicans, the new senator told Roll Call, "To be very blunt and God watch over Paul's soul, I am a 99% improvement over Paul Wellstone. Just about on every issue."

Such puffery--from a man who jumped parties to aid his ambition, who lost in 1998 to former wrestler Jesse Ventura in a gubernatorial election, and who was an accidental senator because of Wellstone's untimely death--rankled liberals. It flabbergasted Franken, who grew up as a middle class Jewish kid in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park in the 1950's and '60s and who had come to adore Wellstone.

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 65 , Sep 16, 2010

Response to attack ad "Angry Al":why isn't Coleman outraged?

On September 12 a commercial called "Angry Al," began with Norm Coleman stating, "I'm Norm Coleman and I approved this message because I thought it was important for you to see it."

The words "Does Al Franken Have the Temperament to Be US Senator?" flashed on the TV screen. What followed were quick audio excerpts from confrontations or interviews or his book in which an agitated, argumentative, profane Franken is exposed. At the end of the 30-second spot, the words "Al Franken. Reckless. Ridiculous. Wrong." are displayed.

Five days later, Franken's campaign punched back with a calm, senatorial Franken responding. "Look, I'm not a politician and I guess I get outraged, and sometimes I've gone too far," he said, adding that with gas, grocery, and health care costs soaring and "special interests" succeeding, "My question is, Why isn't Norm Coleman outraged?"

Source: This Is Not Florida, by Jay Weiner, p. 77-78 , Sep 16, 2010

Voted YES on confirming of Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. In her opening statement, Judge Sotomayor pledged a "fidelity to the law:"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination; Bill PN506 ; vote number 2009-S262 on Aug 6, 2009

Religious freedom means no religious registry.

Franken signed opposing a religious registry

Press Release from 9 Senators: [Cory Booker and 13 co-sponsors] introduced legislation that would block a registry of people based on their religion, race, age, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or nationality. "Religious freedom and freedom from discrimination are fundamental rights central to the very idea of being an American," Sen. Booker said. "Forcing people to sign up for a registry based on their religion, race, or national origin does nothing to keep America secure. It does, however, undermine the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution and promote the false notion that people of certain faiths and nationalities are inherently suspect. Our legislation would block Donald Trump and subsequent administrations from infringing on religious liberty by creating an immigration-related religious registry."

National origin-based immigration registry systems have proven ineffective at combatting terrorism and strengthening national security, but effective at instilling fear in certain communities. The George W. Bush-era National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), registered over 83,000 individuals from 24 Muslim-majority countries, but yielded zero terrorism convictions.

Opposing argument: (GovTrack.us's analysis of S.54): President Trump pledged during his campaign to institute a temporary ban on all Muslim immigration and Syrian refugees "until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." He made good on much of that promise with an executive order suspending America's refugee admission program for 120 days and banning all entry from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days. Trump has defended a Muslim registry as necessary to national security. "They have to be [registered]. It's all about management. Our country has no management," he said when first proposing the idea in 2015. Trump reiterated his plans as president-elect in December.

Source: S.54 & H.R.5207 17-S0054 on Jan 5, 2017

Question Trump on Emoluments clause.

Franken signed questioning Trump on Emoluments clause

Excerpts from Letter from 17 Senators to Trump Organization: The Trump Organization's continuing financial relationship with President Trump raises concerns about whether it is a pass-through for income that violates the Constitution's two Emoluments Clauses: Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 on foreign Emoluments; and Article II, Clause 7 on domestic Emoluments. Please answer the following questions to help Congress understand:

Legal Analysis: (Cato Institute, "Emoluments Clause vs. Trump Empire," 11/29/16): The wording of the Emoluments clause points one way to resolution: Congress can give consent, as it did in the early years of the Republic to presents received by Ben Franklin. It can decide what it is willing to live with in the way of Trump conflicts. If it misjudges public opinion, it will pay a political price at the next election.

FOIA argument: (ACLU Center for Democracy, "FOIA Request," 1/19/17): We filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump's conflicts of interest relating to his business connections. When Trump took the oath of office, he didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family's business interests comply with the Constitution. Some have even argued that upon taking the oath of office, the new president is already violating the Emoluments Clause.

Source: Letter from 17 Senators 17LTR-EMOL on May 18, 2017

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