Franken to make announcement Thursday; 12 senators call for resignation

A dozen Democratic senators on Wednesday called on Al Franken of Minnesota to resign from the Senate over sexual harassment accusations. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Dec. 6 (UPI) — A dozen Democratic senators, including nine women, called Wednesday for Al Franken to resign from the chamber after several women said he harassed them or engaged in sexual misconduct.

Franken’s office said on Twitter the Minnesota senator will make a statement Thursday, with “more details to come.”

If Franken resigns, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton would appoint a replacement to serve until the November 2018 election.

Female senators who released statements online within minutes of each other Wednesday included Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Claire McCaskillof Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, Patty Murray of Washington, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand wrote on Facebook.

“Enough is enough,” she added. “The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them.”

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania was the first male Democratic senator to call on Franken to resign, and he was later joined by Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Sixteen female Democrats are in the senate, including Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the same state as Franken. Five Republican women are senators.

Knobuchar’s office said she spoke with Franken Wednesday morning.

Murray wrote in a series of postings on Twitter, “I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior. 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.”

Murray is the highest-ranking woman in the Senate.

Last month, Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor in Los Angeles, first accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her breast while she was sleeping in 2006 at a USO show for service members. Franken, a former performer and writer on Saturday Night Live, was elected to the Senate in 2008.

Five additional women have come forward, including an unnamed former Democratic congressional aide who told Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after taping his radio show in 2006

Franken has apologized for his behavior and asked for an ethics investigation into his actions.

Tuesday, Michigan Rep.John Conyers, also accused of sexual misconduct, announced his immediate retirement after calls from his own party to quit.


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