Senator Al Franken to Resign After Sexual Harassment Allegations
Senator Al Franken, a former Saturday Night Live writer and comedian who has been the junior senator from Minnesota since 2009, announced this morning he was resigning after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. He made the statement on the Senate floor.
“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” he said. “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits 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. But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota. And it’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the ethics committee process and at the same time, remain an effective Senator for them.”
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In his speech, he also denied some of the allegations against him, and said he remembered other accounts differently than his accusers did. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently,” he said. “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the ethics committee would agree.”
In November, radio anchor Leann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her while rehearsing for a skit during a 2006 USO tour, and posing for a photo appearing to grab her breasts while she was asleep. Since then, several other women have come forward claiming Franken groped them at events ranging from 2003 to 2010. Franken has apologized for his behavior but disputed some of the reports.
On Wednesday, a former Democratic congressional aide accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her after he taped his radio show in 2006, two years before he was elected. Franken reportedly told the aide, “It’s my right as an entertainer,” according to Politico. Franken said the accusation was “categorically not true.”
That same day, a group of female Democratic senators called on their colleague to resign. They included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Patty Murray, Claire McCaskill, Mazie Hirono, Kamala Harris, Tammy Baldwin, Debbie Stabenow, and Maggie Hassan, and were joined by several male senators.
“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” Sen. Murray said in her statement. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.