Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) promised he would resign today “in the coming weeks” after seven women came forward with sexual misconduct allegations.
Franken’s resignation was spurred by a group of over a dozen senators, many women and all Democrats, collectively tweeting on Wednesday that the senator needed to go. That morning, Politico reported that a female former staffer of Franken’s said he tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006.
As elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards—not the lowest. The allegations against Sen. Franken describe behavior that cannot be tolerated. While he’s entitled to an Ethics Committee hearing, I believe he should step aside to let someone else serve.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 6, 2017
The anonymous woman was the seventh to come forward with accusations against Franken, a cascade that began several weeks ago when Leeann Tweeden said Franken groped her, which was backed up by photographic evidence.
In a press conference when he returned to the Senate last week, Franken said he could not say no further woman would come forward with stories about his behavior.
“If you had asked me two weeks ago would any woman come forward with an allegation like this, I would have said ‘no,'” Franken said. “And so I cannot speculate. This has been a shock and has been extremely humbling.”
In his resignation announcement, Franken said some of the allegations against him were not true, and that he remembered others very differently. Franken said he had hoped to wait for an ethics committee investigation of his actions, and that nothing he has done as a senator has brought dishonor onto the Senate. However, he said it was clear he could not continue, announcing that in the coming weeks he will resign. In his speech, Franken noted the irony of Republicans rallying around both Donald Trump and Roy Moore.
Franken also addressed the #MeToo movement, saying it was long overdue and that he was excited, hoping it would affect “real change … because all women need to be heard.”
Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008, in one of the closest elections in Senate history. After a recount that took months, Franken was declared the victor by just over 300 votes. Prior to his time in the Senate, Franken was best known as an actor, comedian, and star on Saturday Night Live.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, has the authority to appoint a replacement until a special election is held. According to a report from Politico, Dayton is expected to appoint his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to Franken’s seat.