Al Franken: From ‘Saturday Night Live’ to Congress

Al Franken: From ‘Saturday Night Live’ to Congress


In 2011, he pressed Apple and Google over privacy.

During his eight years in Congress, Mr. Franken spoke out often about concerns that consumers were risking their security and privacy by using certain electronic devices. In 2011, he and several other senators expressed concern about tracking information that Apple and Google collected on users through their cellphones.

In May that year, Mr. Franken pressed executives from Google and Apple during a congressional panel about location information the companies received from cellphones.

Apple, Google Defend Phone Privacy Practices Video by Associated Press

In 2014, Mr. Franken battled Comcast.

Mr. Franken took aim at proposed telecommunications mergers during his time in Congress, relishing his role as a congressional opponent to media conglomeration. He opposed the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, which got federal approval in 2011, and the unsuccessful merger of AT&T and T-Mobile.

[ALSO READ: Franken’s Campaign Against Comcast Is No Joke]

When Comcast sought to take over Time Warner Cable in 2014, Mr. Franken let the company’s executives know that his opposition was not just about his fear of higher prices for consumers. His opposition was also personal, as a New York Times article in April 2014 noted:

Mr. Franken, for his part, should have a good sense of Comcast — he said the company was his provider in both Minnesota and Washington, and added with a laugh: “It’s great. The service is wonderful.” Moments later, he doubled back to explain his tone. His chuckle, he said, “was more ironic than sarcastic.”

Sen. Al Franken: Comcast-Time Warner merger “would be bad for consumers” Video by CBS This Morning

In 2017, he grilled Betsy DeVos.

Mr. Franken was praised among Democrats in January for his questioning of Betsy DeVos during her confirmation hearing to be education secretary. The hearing was heated and partisan, and Mr. Franken had a memorable exchange with Ms. DeVos about education policy.

“I would like your views on the relative advantage of doing assessments and using them to measure proficiency or to measure growth,” he asked her.

During her response, Mr. Franken cut her off. “It surprises me that you don’t know this issue,” he replied.

Al Franken Questions Betsy DeVos on Proficiency vs Growth | ABC News Video by ABC News

Later in 2017, women accused him of sexual misconduct.

On Nov. 16, Leeann Tweeden became the first woman to publicly accuse Mr. Franken of sexual harassment. Ms. Tweeden, a Los Angeles newscaster, said he kissed and groped her without consent during a 2006 U.S.O. tour. He apologized almost immediately.

By Wednesday, several more women had come forward to accuse Mr. Franken of making unwanted sexual advances.

On Thursday, he said he would be resigning.

Mr. Franken’s support among his colleagues in the Senate crumbled this week. By Wednesday night, dozens of senators, including nearly all of the Democratic women in the Senate, were calling on him to resign. On Thursday morning, he spoke on the Senate floor, saying he would resign in the coming weeks, though he continued to dispute allegations against him.

While Mr. Franken had hoped for vindication from a congressional investigation, he said on Thursday that his remaining in the Senate would be a distraction.

“This decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota,” he said. “It’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them.”



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