Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced Thursday that he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks amid recent allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women—the latest of which emerged Wednesday afternoon when writer and former Democratic congressional staffer Tina Dupuy wrote in The Atlantic that she’d been groped by Franken in 2009 at a party. Earlier in the day Wednesday, another woman came forward to claim the Minnesota senator tried to forcibly kiss her during a 2006 radio appearance.
“I know who I really am,” Franken said in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. “Nothing I have done as a senator has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the ethics committee would agree. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”
He said some of the allegations made against him were untrue; others he said he remembered “very differently.”
The newest allegations this week appeared to be the final straw for some of Franken’s Democratic colleagues, many of whom had previously expressed concern over the mounting claims but stopped short of demanding he step down. They also came less than one week before Alabama’s special Senate election, in which Republican candidate Roy Moore is accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls. Moore denies the allegations.
“We should demand the highest standards, not the lowest, from our leaders, and we should fundamentally value and respect women,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote in a Facebook post.
“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,” she continued.
The accusations directed at Franken started on November 16, after Los Angeles-based radio host Leeann Tweeden alleged he forcibly kissed and groped her during a 2006 USO tour. Since then, more women have came forward to allege similar inappropriate behavior by the senator. He has repeatedly apologized, calling the allegations “embarrassing” and “extremely humbling,” and he said he welcomed the Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his conduct. But Franken had expressed hope that he could regain the faith of his supporters.
“I know there are no magic words that I can say to regain your trust, and I know that’s going to take time. I’m ready to start that process, and that starts with going back to work today,” Franken told reporters during his first press conference to address the allegations on November 27.
President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual harassment by a series of women, publicly criticized Franken for the “really bad” groping allegations. On Monday, Trump officially endorsed Moore in Tuesday’s special election—a fact that Franken pointed out in his floor speech Thursday.
“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,” Franken said.
Shortly after Franken’s speech, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton released a statement saying that he has not made a decision on who will replace Franken’s seat. “I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days,” Dayton added.