From the floor of the Senate late Thursday morning, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) revealed his intent to step down from elected office amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and evaporating support from Democratic colleagues.
Mr. Franken did not specify a date in which his resignation would take effect.
Stating he would leave the Senate in “coming weeks,” Franken acknowledged the validity of some accusations leveled against him and disputed others. Asserting fears the scandal would continue to erode at his effectiveness in representing the state of Minnesota, Franken said:
“I am proud that during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion of women. And that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there is a different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am. . . . I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing has brought dishonor on this institution. I am confident that the ethics committee would agree.”
Franken immediately followed with a swipe at President Trump and GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, saying his resignation was an “irony” as others in the active political arena face more serious sexual assault charges.
As of Thursday, a total of eight women have gone public with allegations Franken made unwanted advances toward them. The charges include Franken’s attempt to kiss, embrace or grope females.
Following several days in which Democratic allies distanced themselves from him and the Senate Committee on Ethics was reviewing charges, Franken decided to leave office. By Wednesday afternoon, 32 Democratic senators had called on Franken to step down.
Franken’s decision to resign follows the departure of Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who left office on Tuesday after several women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reported shortly after Franken resigned Gov. Mark Dayton was leaning toward appointing Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill the seat until a special election was held.
[AP] [ABC News] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Vice]