At the event on Monday, hosted by Mic and Bustle Digital Group, Ms. Gillibrand cited a “double standard,” noting that female senators were pressed for comment about Mr. Franken far more frequently than their male colleagues. “Who is being held accountable for Al Franken’s decision to resign? Women senators, including me. It’s outrageous. It’s absurd,” she said.
Ms. Gillibrand has argued that Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, would not have won a special election in Alabama if Mr. Franken had not stepped aside and provided the party with a clear message against the Republican candidate, Roy S. Moore, a state jurist accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls. Others in her party, including Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader who nudged Mr. Franken out of the Senate, voiced similar concerns.
In the New Yorker piece, Mr. Franken alleges that Mr. Schumer forced him to leave, saying that if he refused to resign by 5 p.m. the entire Democratic caucus would demand he quit. People close to Mr. Schumer disputed that description of events, pointing to Mr. Franken’s failure to sufficiently address the allegations both publicly and privately within the Democratic caucus as creating a situation where the political pressure on him grew overwhelming. Mr. Schumer, they point out, was one of the last Democrats in the Senate to come out against Mr. Franken.
“Senator Schumer warned Senator Franken repeatedly that it was certain that there would be procedures used against him in the Senate, including the fact that Republicans would go to the floor and demand censure, call for stripping of his committee assignments and more,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer. “And given the number of senators who called for his resignation, such moves would have inevitably succeeded.”
The magazine quoted seven current and former Democratic senators — five men and two women — as saying they regretted calling for Mr. Franken to step down.
Mr. Franken had appeared unhappy with his choice in real time. “There is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office,” he said in his farewell speech.
In recent months, Mr. Franken has gingerly waded back into public life, after sinking into what he called a clinical depression. “I’m angry at my colleagues who did this. I think they were just trying to get past one bad news cycle,” he told The New Yorker.