Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Monday he now regrets calling for Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct.
"I have stood for due process throughout my years as a prosecutor and in chairing the Judiciary Committee," Leahy said in a written statement. "I regret not doing that this time. The Ethics Committee should have been allowed to investigate and make its recommendation."
Twelve days ago, Leahy joined a group of Democratic senators calling for Franken to resign. The Minnesota senator announced the next day that he would do so in the "coming weeks."
"I am concerned that even a prompt Ethics Committee investigation and recommendations will not come soon enough," Leahy said in his December 6 statement. "He has to step aside. I hope as a nation that we are beginning to come to terms with the systemic problem of sexual harassment and assault, but we still have a long way to go."
Leahy's latest position puts him in line with his original stance. In late November he told Seven Dayshe would wait for the outcome of a Senate Ethics Committee investigation before weighing in on Franken's fate.
The Vermont senator's change of heart was first reported Monday morning by Politico, which cited two unnamed sources claiming Leahy had told Franken he regretted calling for his colleague's resignation. Leahy declined to comment to Politico but released his latest statement following inquiries from Seven Days. The Politico story quoted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) saying Franken's forced resignation was "the most hypocritical thing I’ve ever seen done to a human being."