Yuri Gripas / Reuters
Democratic Sen. Al Franken introduced Thursday he would resign “within the coming weeks” following a number of allegations of sexual misconduct, making him the second member of Congress to say he would go away workplace this week as revelations about sexual harassment grip Capitol Hill and different industries.
“Right this moment I’m saying that within the coming weeks, I will likely be resigning as a member of america Senate,” Franken mentioned in a speech on the Senate flooring.
“A number of the allegations towards me are merely not true. Others I keep in mind very otherwise,” Franken added.
The allegations, from seven girls, date again to as early as 2003, when Franken was nonetheless a comic, to his early years within the Senate, and embody claims of undesirable kissing and groping.
Franken mentioned the nation has “entered an necessary second in historical past” the place “we’re lastly starting to hearken to girls.”
“I used to be excited for that dialog and hopeful it could lead to actual change that made life higher for ladies all throughout the nation and in each a part of our society,” he mentioned. “Then the dialog turned to me.”
Franken mentioned a number of the allegations aren’t true and a few he remembers otherwise, however didn’t elaborate additional.
“I’m proud that in my time within the Senate I’ve used my energy to be a champion of ladies and that I’ve earned a repute as somebody who respects the ladies I work alongside,” he mentioned. “There's been a special image painted of me … I do know who I actually am.”
Franken didn’t present a selected date his resignation will take impact, however mentioned, referring to President Trump, “I’m leaving whereas a person who has bragged on tape about his historical past of sexual assaults sits within the Oval Workplace and a person who repeatedly preyed on younger ladies campaigns for the Senate with the complete assist of his occasion.”
“There’s a giant a part of me that can all the time remorse having to stroll away from this job with a lot work left to be finished, however I’ve religion the work will proceed,” he mentioned.
On Wednesday, Franken confronted rising calls to resign from Senate colleagues after Politico reported that he had allegedly tried to forcibly kiss a Democratic aide in 2006, earlier than he was a senator, and that he instructed the younger girl: “It’s my proper as an entertainer.” In a press release to Politico, Franken categorically denied the allegation, however a number of Democratic senators referred to as on him to step down that day, in addition to Democratic Nationwide Committee chairman Tom Perez.
“Whereas Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its evaluation, I consider it could be higher for our nation if he despatched a transparent message that any type of mistreatment of ladies in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping apart to let another person serve,” New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand wrote in a Fb put up.
The primary allegation got here in mid-November from Los Angeles information anchor Leeann Tweeden, who wrote in a put up for KABC radio that whereas the pair have been on a USO tour entertaining US troops within the Center East, Franken forcibly kissed her and later groped her breasts whereas she was asleep. Tweeden additionally shared a photograph of the groping incident.
Franken initially solid doubt on Tweeden’s recollection of the rehearsal throughout which he kissed her, however later issued a extra detailed apology and mentioned he would cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation requested by a bipartisan refrain of senators, together with Majority Chief Mitch McConnell.
Since then, extra girls have come ahead with accusations towards Franken, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008. Lindsay Menz instructed CNN Franken grabbed her buttocks whereas they took a photograph collectively on the Minnesota State Truthful in 2010. Two unnamed girls subsequently accused Franken of comparable conduct at occasions throughout his first Senate run, in keeping with the Huffington Publish.
“My quick response was disgust,” one of many girls, who met Franken at a Democratic fundraising occasion in 2008, instructed the Huffington Publish. “However my secondary response was disappointment. I used to be excited to be there and to satisfy him. And so to have that occur actually deflated me.”
The lady additionally accused Franken of asking her to hitch him within the lavatory, which Franken denies.
A fifth girl, Military veteran Stephanie Kemplin, accused Franken of cupping her breast in 2003 whereas the 2 took a photograph collectively in Kuwait, the place she was deployed and Franken was acting on one other USO tour. And a former elected official in New England, who spoke anonymously to Jezebel, accused Franken of giving her a “moist, open-mouthed kiss” with out her consent in 2006.
Franken issued a press release in November saying he had “crossed a line” in his interactions with some girls; on the time, solely 4 girls had accused him of misconduct.
“I’ve met tens of hundreds of individuals and brought hundreds of pictures, typically in crowded and chaotic conditions,” Franken mentioned within the assertion to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “I’m a heat individual; I hug folks. I’ve discovered from latest tales that in a few of these encounters, I crossed a line for some girls — and I do know that any quantity is just too many.
“Some girls have discovered my greetings or embraces for a hug or picture inappropriate, and I respect their emotions about that. I’ve thought loads in latest days about how that would occur, and acknowledge that I have to be way more cautious and delicate in these conditions. I really feel terribly that I’ve made some girls really feel badly and for that I’m so sorry, and I wish to be sure that by no means occurs once more.”
At a press convention greater than per week after the primary allegations towards him surfaced, Franken apologized for disappointing folks and mentioned he felt ashamed — however, when requested a few doable resignation, mentioned he wouldn’t “speculate on that.”
“If you happen to had requested me two weeks in the past, would any girl come ahead with an allegation like this, I’d have mentioned 'no,'” Franken mentioned. “This has been a shock, and it's been extraordinarily humbling.”
“I’m going to work to regain their belief,” he mentioned on the time. “I’m going to be accountable. We’re going to cooperate fully with the ethics investigation.”
The accusations towards Franken come as lawmakers grapple with rising allegations of sexual misconduct in Congress. Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the longest serving member of the Home introduced his resignation on Dec. 5, following a number of accusations of sexual harassment and a secret settlement to maintain one staffer quiet, as first reported by BuzzFeed Information.
BuzzFeed Information additionally reported former marketing campaign staffer to Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen left the marketing campaign after the then-candidate allegedly sexually harassed her on a number of events. Kihuen has up to now resisted requires his resignation, together with from Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi and the chairman of the Democrats’ Home marketing campaign committee, Ben Ray Luján.
LINK: Sen. Al Franken Says He’ll Cooperate With Investigation Into Allegations He Groped 4 Ladies
LINK: Al Franken Says He’ll Be “Accountable” For Sexual Harassment Allegations
LINK: Al Franken Acknowledges His Habits “Crossed A Line” For Too Many Ladies