AL FRANKEN RESIGNS: Minnesota Democrat bows to pressure from Senate colleagues amid sexual misconduct allegations
Democratic Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate on Thursday amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.
“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” he said during a speech on the chamber floor.
Franken took the opportunity to cast blame on others, including President Donald Trump, who have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse.
“I of all people am aware that there is some irony that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault is 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,” he said.
Franken’s widely expected resignation comes a day after at least 35 Democratic senators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, publicly called on the Minnesota Democrat to resign as he faced two new accusations of sexual misconduct.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and several other female Democratic senators led the calls for Franken’s resignation, describing the allegations against him as a pattern of mistreatment.
“I have been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable,” Gillibrand, a prominent advocate for survivors of sexual abuse, wrote in a statement on Facebook. “I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families.”
By Wednesday afternoon, dozens of members of the Senate Democratic caucus had called on Franken to step down. A representative for Franken said the senator would make an announcement on Thursday, with speculation suggesting that he would bow to calls to resign.
Accusations of forcible kissing and groping have mounted for weeks
Also on Wednesday, two additional women accused Franken of sexual misconduct, growing the total number of female accusers to eight. One woman, a former Democratic congressional aide, said Franken attempted to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a senator. Franken denied this allegation, calling it “categorically false” and “preposterous.”
Franken insists he doesn’t remember meeting several of the women who have accused him of groping them during photo ops, and he says he has a different recollection of a 2006 incident with Leeann Tweeden, a California TV and radio host who says Franken groped and forcibly kissed her.
But the senator has said he’s “ashamed” by the allegations and apologized to the women who have felt disrespected by his behavior.
“I know that I am going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances — much more careful, much more sensitive,” Franken said during a press conference last week, adding, “It’s going to take a long time for me to regain people’s trust, but I hope that starting work today that I can start to do that.”