Outgoing Sen. Al Franken used his final speech as a U.S. senator to thank family, staff and Democratic colleagues — and to excoriate President Trump.
Over the course of a 40-minute speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, the Minnesota Democrat, who is stepping down next month following allegations of inappropriate touching made by multiple women, tore into Trump and Republicans over their “attacks” on voting rights, LGBT rights, science, health care and — most recently — the middle class.
“During his inaugural address, President Trump vowed that ‘the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,’” Franken said. “But the Republican tax bill represents a slap in the face to those forgotten men and women. I guess the president forgot about them.”
Franken decried what he described as the repeated “lies” of the Trump administration, including the president’s baseless claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
“It’s all based on a lie — and not a lie President Trump came up with,” Franken said. “Right-wing conservatives have been raising a false alarm about so-called voter fraud for years despite the fact that no credible evidence has ever been [found] demonstrating that it is a real problem.”
The same, Franken said, goes for the administration’s policies affecting the LGBT community.
“Lurking behind these policies are lies,” he said. “Lies that the advocates of LGBT rights want to trample on people’s religious freedom. The lie that families led by a gay or lesbian couple don’t provide a safe environment for children. The lie that allowing transgender people to use the appropriate bathroom opens the door to sexual assault. President Trump didn’t invent these lies. But he and his administration proudly repeat them.”
Franken also lamented Trump’s “attacks on science,” citing a recent Washington Post report that the Trump administration had prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from using such terms as “evidence-based” and “science-based.”
“We now have enough evidence to conclude that climate change is real and it is man-made and it is a threat to our nation’s security and an existential threat to the planet,” Franken said. “President Trump didn’t launch the war on science, but now he’s leading the charge.”
Franken, who is stepping down on Jan. 2, praised his replacement, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, as a worthy successor.
“I have no doubt Sen. Smith will serve Minnesotans and all Americans well,” Franken said.
Franken did not mention the allegations of sexual misconduct that led to his resignation. In a speech on the Senate floor announcing his intention to step down earlier this month, Franken insisted that some of the claims were not true and others he remembered differently.
“There is some irony that I am leaving while a man who bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who preyed on young girls runs for Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said then, referencing Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
He concluded Thursday’s speech on a positive note.
“Politics is about the improvement of people’s lives,” Franken said. “The American people know that to be true. And they fill me with hope for our future.”
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