This week in politics, 12/4-12/11


Senator Al Franken (D-MN) announced his intention to resign from the U.S. senate on Thursday. (Image courtesy of Veni via Flickr).

Amid swirling rumors of sexual misconduct, Senator Al Franken has announced his plans to resign from the U.S. Senate.

Elsewhere, the special election for the vacated Alabama Senate seat this Tuesday heats up between Doug Jones and Roy Moore.

Finally, President Trump breaks with years of U.S. foreign policy precedent by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Franken to resign

After being accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by eight different women — first and most notably Leeann Tweeden, per ABC News — Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has announced his intention to resign from the Senate, per The New York Times. While Franken said that he feels he can no longer effectively serve as a senator, he also denied the accusations of at least six women, according to the Times.

While Franken announced his intention to resign in his speech, he has not yet officially stepped down.

Franken also used his resignation speech as an opportunity to shift the focus back to the sexual harassment allegations that have been levied against both President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

I of all people am aware there is some irony in the fact I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” said Franken, per The Washington Post.

In the wake of Franken’s announcement, three U.S. senators came forward calling for President Trump to resign from office, per The Washington Post. Among them are Democrats Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), as well former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Alabama special election heats up

On Tuesday, voters in Alabama will decide whether Democrat Doug Jones or Republican Roy Moore will fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

The frenzied, back-and-forth campaign has been largely overshadowed by the allegations looming against Moore.

Moore, who was accused of various incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct against women in their teens while he was in his thirties, has denounced the claims as attempted character assassination.

Moore has recently campaigned alongside Trump campaign manager and Breitbart editor Steve Bannon, attempting to galvanize the conservative base in Alabama.

Per Jamelle Bouie of Slate, Moore currently leads Jones in the polls, but Jones and the Democrats are surging at the right moment, gaining momentum as the election draws near.

As Bouie points out, this is due in part to the fact that Moore has been absent from any public appearances in the last week, while Jones has doggedly continued on an exhausting campaign schedule.

While polling data has yet to reflect Jones’ steadily-building momentum, Bouie writes that much of Jones’ success or failure hinges on his ability to mobilize black voters in Alabama. Since the state is deeply racially divided and an overwhelming majority of the white vote in Alabama goes to the GOP, Jones will need a strong turnout of black Alabamians to help build a winning coalition.

The stakes of this election couldn’t be higher, given the allegations facing Moore and the looming tax bill that could hinge on the winner of this special election.

Trump recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Breaking with years of foreign policy precedent, and much to the chagrin of both pundits and advisers, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, per The Boston Herald.

The move is significant for a number of reasons. First, it further destabilizes a chaotic region. Mass protesting by frustrated Palestinians has already begun, and as a result, this move could hurt any remaining hopes of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Moreover, the U.S. has now lost a key negotiating chip. Rather than dangling the possibility of recognizing Jerusalem for future leverage in negotiations with Israel, the U.S. has now lost that ability by choosing to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital without receiving anything in return.

In defense of the decision, Trump argues that years of neutrality on Jerusalem has not produced any progress towards peace.

“We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past,” said Trump, per The Boston Herald.

While the decision has been roundly criticized, it remains to be seen how it will affect stability in the region and ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Email John at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @JohnDCoakley.

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