Senate Democrats call on Franken to resign amid further allegations of sexual harassment
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said that she "didn't feel" that Sen. Al Franken (D-Mich.) should remain in the Senate after mounting allegations of sexual harassment. (Reuters) December 6 at 1:13 PM
More than a dozen Senate Democrats called Wednesday for Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment, raising the possibility he will become the second lawmaker to step aside over recent accusations of inappropriate behavior.
In a campaign started by Democratic women, senators said Franken should leave Capitol Hill. Franken faces multiple accusations of inappropriate touching and unwanted advances. He has denied intentional wrongdoing and has apologized.
âEnough is enough,â Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) told reporters at a news conference. âWe need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable. We as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard, and we should fundamentally be valuing women. That is where this debate has to go.â
Frankenâs office said he would make an announcement about his political future on Thursday. No other details were provided.
The other senators urging Franken to resign were Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Maggie Hassan (N.H.), Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Patty Murray (Wash.), the highest-ranking woman among Senate Democrats, along with Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Senate Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.).Sen. Al Franken is seen outsi de his office on Capitol Hill, on Nov. 27. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
âSenator Frankenâs conduct was wrong. He has admitted to it. And he should resign from the Senate,â Durbin told reporters Wednesday.
The calls came after another woman accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, before his election to the Senate.
The woman, a former Democratic congressional aide, said Franken pursued her as she left the station. When he tried to kiss her, he told her, âItâs my right as an entertainer,â she said.
Politico, which reported the allegation Wednesday, withheld the womanâs name. She was in her mid-20s at the time of the alleged incident.
If he resigns, Franken would be the second member of Congress to step aside during a recent reckoning over sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. Facing multiple accusations of inappropriate behavior around female aides, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) steppe d down on Tuesday after more than half a century in Congress.
[Rep. John Conyers Jr. resigns over sexual harassment allegations after a half-century in Congress]
Tom Perez, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, joined the calls for Frankenâs ouster.
âSen. Al Franken should step down. Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party,â he wrote on Twitter.
In recent days, the Democratic women senators had spoken privately among themselves about the situation, agreeing that they could not tolerate Frankenâs presence as allegations continued trickling out.
âPeople were at the edge of their patience with this. Theyâd had enough. One more allegation was going to be it,â said one senior aide, who was granted anonymity to describe private deliberations.
A second Senate aide familiar with the talks confirmed the pri vate discussions among female senators.
Describing the mood among Senate Democrats, the aide said, âItâs a s----y day.â
If Franken resigns, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) would pick his replacement, who would serve until a November 2018 special election to fill the final two years of Frankenâs term.
Franken has said he will cooperate with an ongoing investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. But Gillibrand argued the panel is not equipped to deliver âthe kind of accountability the American people are searching for.â
âI think it would be better for the country for him to offer that clear message that he values women, that we value women and that this kind of behavior is not acceptable,â she said.
This story is developing .â.â.
David Weigel and Sean Sullivan contributed to this article.
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