Democrats lose top fighter against Trump’s nominees

Story highlights Franken was a key Democratic tone of voice against Trump nominees

He fought with Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch earlier this year

Franken announced his resignation Thursday

Washington (CNN) Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s grilling of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch in the so-dubbed “frozen trucker” case may have been the most replayed moment of the televised Senate Judiciary Committee hearings last March.

It has drawn hundreds of thousands of sights on YouTube, and Gorsuch, a sitting down judge since April, sarcastically recalled the controversy months later as an instance that made it look like “I just hate truckers.”

Franken’s bitter resignation speech on Thursday as a result of sexual harassment allegations leaves more than an wide open seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Democrats already have few tools to combat Republican President Donald Trump’s lifetime-appointments to the federal government bench.

A showman by training, former comedian Franken could distill and dramatize regulations, put a witness on the defensive, and represent the opposition in a way that captured publicity. In the stuffy environment of judicial nominations, Franken offered the Democratic trigger as no other common Judiciary Committee member could.

He was a good relentless inquisitor, combining a good flair for the dramatic with down-home folksiness. Critics located him even more of a tormentor, and Gorsuch in March bristled at his portrayal of the nominee’s views.

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