Minnesota Sen. Al Franken will resign from the United States Senate he said on Thursday, an announcement he made a day after a number of his Democratic colleagues called for him to step down amid mounting allegations that he sexually harassed women.
“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” said Franken, adding, “It’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the ethics committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for [the people of Minnesota].”
The allegations against the senator began less than three weeks ago with the account of a Los Angeles radio host who described Franken’s actions while the pair were on a USO trip together in 2006. Though he apologized, acknowledged some wrongdoing and called for an ethics investigation to be initiated, Franken resisted early calls for his resignation, even after additional accusations of misconduct surfaced.
The tipping point seemed to come earlier in the day Wednesday, when, in what was a coordinated effort, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., each called for Franken to resign.
A host of additional Democratic legislators and Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez later joined the initial group of female senators in urging Franken to give up his seat.
In November, Leeann Tweeden, the radio host, was the first to go public with her allegation against Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her over ten years ago. Tweeden claimed that Franken “forcibly kissed me without my consent” while rehearsing for a skit on an United Service Organizations tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
“I felt disgusted and violated,” Tweeden wrote of the alleged incident in a blog post published Nov. 17.
Tweeden further wrote that Franken groped her while she was sleeping and included a photo of Franken appearing to place his hands on her chest.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken wrote in paper statement apologizing to Tweeden. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
The radio host accepted the apology, and, at the time, said she felt Franken should not step down from his Senate seat.
After the allegations surfaced,…