Accused by multiple women of unwanted sexual advances both before and after he was elected to Congress, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) announced on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday that he would resign his seat ‘in the coming weeks,’ even as he denied the veracity of the various charges leveled against him.
“Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Franken said. “Others I remember very differently.”
“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator – nothing – has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken added in a short speech, in which he said he had used his time in politics to be a ‘champion of women.’
Even as he announced he would leave the Senate, Franken took a shot at both President Donald Trump, and Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, as Franken said it is ironic that he is leaving, while the other two men are dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct.
Franken’s decision came after a wave of calls on Wednesday from fellow Democratic Senators for his resignation, as the number of women accusing the Minnesota Democrat of unwanted sexual advances continued to rise this week.
“Senator Franken made the right decision today,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who had resisted the initial public rush by Democratic Senators yesterday to push Franken out of his Senate seat.
“I agree the time has come for Senator Franken to step aside,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The resignation of Franken will now allow the Governor of Minnesota – former U.S. Senator, and Democrat, Mark Dayton – to fill the vacancy.
Franken’s term runs out after the 2020 election, so there would be a short-term appointment made by the Governor, and then an election to fill the rest of his term.
As for the timing of Franken’s departure, he could be replaced within minutes of his official resignation – so, this is not a question of Franken staying on for several weeks in order to insure that Democrats don’t lose a key vote late in 2017.
It was only three weeks ago today that a radio news host, Leanne Tweeden, accused Franken of kissing and groping without consent, while the two were part of a USO military tour in 2006.
Franken’s speech came just after Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) gave his ‘farewell address’ to colleagues; Strange will be replaced by either Republican Roy Moore, or Democrat Doug Jones, in next week’s Alabama U.S. Senate special election.
The Senate floor was quiet immediately after Franken spoke, as no Senator commented on the Minnesota Democrat’s remarks. After about 10 minutes, regular Senate business resumed.
Franken took no questions as he exited the Capitol; that will be one of his legacies, as he routinely refused to answer questions from reporters in the hallways.