Franken, Confident of Ethics Exoneration, Says He'll Resign 'in the Coming Weeks'
WASHINGTON -- With the majority of his caucus calling for him to step down, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced today that "in the coming weeks" he will be resigning from office.
After Senate Dem women started the avalanche against Franken on Wednesday morning, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined in by late afternoon.
“Senator Franken should resign," Schumer said. “I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.”
Franken, who faces several allegations of making unwanted sexual advances, said on the Senate floor today that he had been excited about the #MeToo movement as "we were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men's actions affect them."
"Then the conversation turned to me," he said. "Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was -- I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously."
The senator said he didn't mean to give the "false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven't done," because "some of the allegations against me are simply not true; others, I remember very differently."
"I am proud that during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion of women, and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am," he continued. "Serving in the United States Senate has been the great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator -- nothing -- has brought dishonor on this institution. And I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree."
After announcing he would step down, Franken added that he's "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."
"But this decision is not about me; it's about the people of Minnesota. And it's become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process, and at the same time remain an effective senator for them."
Franken noted, "I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice... What I want you to know is that even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it's all been worth it."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), among the names that Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton might appoint to fill Franken's seat, said in a statement that he's "grateful for Al Franken’s progressive record of accomplishment over the years," and "Franken's decision to resign shows a strength of character that other elected officials haven’t."
"Al’s decision is the right one, and will bring us one step closer towards a society of true justice and equality for all," Ellison added.