Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) announced his resignation Thursday following multiple accusations of sexual assault and repeated calls from over 30 of his Democratic colleagues to step down.
“Today, I am announcing that in the coming weeks I am resigning as a member of the U.S. Senate,” said Franken said on the Senate floor:
Franken commented on the recent national conversation over sexual assault, where numerous Hollywood celebrities, media executives, and government officials have been accused of sexual assault.
“A couple months ago I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country. We finally listened to women.”
“Then the conversation turned to me,” Franken added.
He, however, denied many of the accusations brought against him by eight women.
“I also think that it gave some people the false impression that I did things I have not done,” the Minnesota Democrat charged. “Some things aren’t true, while others I remember very differently.”
Franken then turned his attention to President Donald Trump and Alabama’s senatorial candidate Judge Roy Moore who have both denied accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against them.
“I am leaving, while a man in the oval office has bragged about his sexual assault on tape,” Franken said of Trump. “While another man who has the full support of his Party,” Franken said, referring to Moore.
Franken’s office announced on Wednesday that the Minnesota senator would make an announcement Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined 30 of his fellow Democratic lawmakers calling on Franken to resign on Wednesday.
“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said in a short statement.
Female senators calling for Schumer’s ouster included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
Sen. Mazie Hirono initially defended Franken, but eventually called for him to step aside.
“Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend,” she wrote Wednesday. “But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”
On Wednesday morning, journalist Tina Dupuy accused Sen. Franken of sexual misconduct in a piece published by The Atlantic. Dupuy claimed that Franken groped her in 2009 at a Media Matters party during President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Sen. Franken’s numerous sexual assault scandals first broke when Leann Tweeden, a journalist who anchors at TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, California, accused Sen. Franken of fondling her while she slept and shoving his tongue down her throat without her consent.
Franken released multiple statements apologizing for his inappropriate conduct towards numerous women and asked for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his actions.
Mitt Romney, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) refused to initially call on the Minnesota Democrat to resign, while all of these establishment Republicans called for Alabama Judge Roy Moore to step aside given the unsubstantiated claims of sexual assault against the Alabama Senate Republican candidate.
President Donald Trump reacted to the Franken’s sexual assault allegations by labeling the Minnesota senator “Al Frankenstein.”