“Enough Is Enough”: Democratic Senators Call for Al Franken’s Resignation

More than 25 Senate Democrats publicly called on Sen. Al Franken to resign, in a push initiated by Democratic women after new sexual harassment allegations.

United States Senator Al Franken (Democrat of Minnesota) looks over his notes prior to hearing Alex M. Azar II testify before the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on his nomination to be Secretary of Health and Human Services on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. Credit: Ron Sachs / CNP - NO WIRE SERVICE ' Photo by: Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Senator Al Franken looks over his notes on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 29, 2017. Photo: Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Women in the Senate started a movement on Wednesday that led more than 25 Senate Democrats to publicly call on Sen. Al Franken to resign. The demands for Franken’s resignation came after a seventh women accused the Minnesota Democrat of sexual harassment. Franken’s office said the senator would make an announcement on Thursday but offered no additional details.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first to call on Franken to step down. Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin issued similar statements within the same hour.

“I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator Franken’s behavior,” Gillibrand wrote in a Facebook post. “Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated by those of us who are privileged to work in public service.”

Franken has apologized for his behavior, although his fellow Democrats don’t think that’s enough.

McCaskill kept it short, tweeting: “Al Franken should resign.”

Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden was the first to accuse Franken of sexual harassment last month. The Senate Democrats’ demands came hours after Politico reported that a seventh woman — a former Democratic congressional aide — has come forward, saying that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The aide said after ducking to avoid the kiss, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” Franken told Politico in a statement.

Harris joined her colleagues, tweeting that “sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere,” adding that “I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.”

“I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend,” Hirono tweeted, “but that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania was the first male Democratic senator to call for Franken’s resignation. He was joined by Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Democratic Whip Dick Durbin.

The list also includes: Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Dianne Feinstein of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“I agree with my colleagues who have stepped forward today and called on Senator Franken to resign. We can’t just believe women when it’s convenient,” Casey tweeted.

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons told reporters that as vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, which is currently investigating the allegations against Franken, he’s unable to comment.  

Senate Democrats were speechless when The Intercept asked for a reaction shortly after news of the first allegation broke in November, although Franken’s colleagues forcefully condemned the behavior and called for an ethics probe.

Calls for Franken’s resignation come just one day after Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan announced his immediate retirement. Conyers also faced numerous sexual harassment allegations, which he denies.

Top photo: Senator Al Franken looks over his notes on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 29, 2017.

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