MINNEAPOLIS – Democratic Senate candidate Richard Painter refuses to say whether or not he believes the eight women who accused former Sen. Al Franken of sexual assault.
Painter, a former Republican who served as the chief ethics lawyer for the George W. Bush administration, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. Painter announced Monday that he would be running as a Democrat, hoping to take Franken’s former seat by campaigning on an anti-Trump message.
When the allegations against Franken broke last year, Painter questioned the stories of the women, saying that it could be a “Roger Stone/Fox set up job.” In an interview on MSNBC on Monday, Painter was confronted on his comments and asked whether he still questions the validity of the accusations. Painter refused to retract his comments, instead focusing on the lack of investigation into the situation.
“I have no idea. I put a lot of those tweets out when I first heard about it,” Painter said on MSNBC. “I continue to wonder why Roger Stone got a heads up about that information before Minnesota voters did. We are entitled to information. We are entitled to an investigation. We are entitled to know what happened when a senator is elected to a six-year term, he should be serving the six years unless we have an investigation that finds wrongdoing on the part of that senator.”
The MSNBC host continued to press Painter on the issue, reminding Painter of some of the allegations against Franken. Painter continued to argue the need for full investigations in situations of misconduct, saying Congress is not investigating facts.
“I don’t know the facts,” Painter said. “We should have investigations of such conduct. That type of conduct is unacceptable for a United States senator or anyone else. But we should find out the facts, not just have a resignation. We should find out the facts.”
Painter, who has called for Trump’s impeachment, attempted to dismiss further questions about Franken claiming the election was not about Franken, but about Trump’s “abuse of power.”
“This election is not about Al Franken,” Painter said. “This is about [President] Donald Trump and his abuse of power. We need to elect senators and representatives who are going to stand up to him. If people want to continue to talk about Franken and those allegations, that’s what Trump wants you to do.”
Watch the exchange below: