A frustrated Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., stood on the Senate floor Thursday morning and announced his resignation from the Senate, following weeks of sexual assault allegations that ultimately prompted his own party to abandon him.
Franken admitted to none of the allegations against him, but said it’s time for him to step down nonetheless.
“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” Franken said.
As he has in the last few weeks, Franken also refused to say any of the allegations against him are true.
“Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Others I remember very differently.”
His resignation is the latest example of the power of the “MeToo” movement that has seen women publicize sexual harassment and assault against them at the hands of powerful men in Hollywood, Washington and the media.
The deciding factor for Franken was his seventh accuser, who said Franken tried to forcibly kiss her and said it was his right as someone in the entertainment business.
“It’s my right as an entertainer,” he allegedly said.
Franken denied the allegation. But many of his Democratic colleagues who had been willing to wait out a Senate Ethics Committee investigation had enough.
Seven Democratic women in the Senate quickly called for Franken to resign, led by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a move that appeared to seal Franken’s fate. Other senators joining her were Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Kamala Harris of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Patty Murray of Washington.
Along with the group of senators, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also said that the second-term Minnesota senator should step down.
The allegations against Franken started with Leeann Tweeden, a former model and current TV anchor in Los Angeles, who said Franken forcibly kissed her during a USO tour in 2006. She also released a photo showing Franken smiling while grabbing her breasts while she was asleep.
Franken apologized several times, but said over the last few weeks that he didn’t recall any of the incidents, and never admitted to any of the allegations outside of the photo released by Tweeden. Other allegations have included him allegedly grabbing a female’s buttocks at a state fair, and two women accusing him of improper touching at political events in 2007 and 2008.
Stephanie Kemplin, the fifth accuser, said that Franken touched her breast in 2003 USO tour. A sixth accuser, a former elected official in New England, said that Franken tried to kiss her onstage at a 2006 event.