Democrats turn on Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken Alan (Al) Stuart FrankenDem rep Moulton calls on Franken to resign Time is too politically correct to crown a worthy ‘Person of the Year’ Conyers resigns amid sexual misconduct allegations MORE (D-Minn.) is expected to resign from office Thursday, one day after his Democratic colleagues turned decisively against him over allegations of groping and other sexual misconduct.
In a dizzying turn of events, more than 30 Democratic senators called for Franken to step down after a new woman came forward to allege that he had forcibly tried to kiss her.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Kirsten Elizabeth GillibrandElaine Chao: Women can't let harassment hold them back Rep. Speier: Conyers's pattern of conduct 'is that of a predator' Abortion rights group launches first salvo against Illinois Dem MORE (D-N.Y.) opened the floodgates around noon, becoming the first senator to call for him to quit; others followed in rapid succession, effectively ending Franken’s political career in the span of a few hours.
Franken kept a low profile, skipping Senate votes, but his office said he would make a statement on Thursday. A Democratic official told Minnesota Public Radio he will be resigning from office, though his office insisted a decision had not been made.
It’s a stunning fall for Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer and author who, just a few weeks ago, was considered by many to be a dark horse for his party’s presidential nomination in 2020.
The first allegations against Franken emerged in mid-November, when Leeann Tweeden, a radio host, said he had kissed and groped her without her consent during a USO tour in 2006. She published a photo of Franken appearing to grab her breasts while she was asleep.
Several women came forward in the weeks after that to allege that Franken had groped or kissed them against their will, but Senate Democrats refused to call for Franken’s ouster, repeatedly stating that an Ethics Committee investigation should be allowed to run its course.
That changed Wednesday, when seven female Democratic senators called for Franken to step aside.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand said in a message posted on Facebook.
Sens. Kamala Harris Kamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Panel advances controversial Trump nominee | Ex-coal boss Blankenship to run for Senate | Dem commissioner joins energy regulator Senate panel advances controversial environmental nominee Sanders proposes lifting Medicaid cap for Puerto Rico MORE (Calif.), Claire McCaskill Claire Conner McCaskillRight scrambles GOP budget strategy Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank Black Dems see bias in response to sexual harassment cases MORE (Mo.), Patty Murray Patricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems push for more money for opioid fight Overnight Health Care: Ryan's office warns he wasn't part of ObamaCare deal | House conservatives push for mandate repeal in final tax bill | Dem wants probe into CVS-Aetna merger Ryan's office warning he wasn't part of deal on ObamaCare: source MORE (Wash.), Mazie Hirono Mazie Keiko HironoDem senator: 'Distraction' to call for Franken's resignation Senate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban Overnight Health Care: Senate tax bill to include ObamaCare mandate repeal | Dems seize on new ObamaCare fight | CBO warns tax bill could spur B in Medicare cuts MORE (Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin Tammy Suzanne BaldwinOvernight Cybersecurity: Flynn guilty plea brings Russia probe closer to White House | NSA worker admits to removing classified info | Dems revive data breach bill | Uber security managers step down Five takeaways from Trump Health nominee’s hearing ‘Fed up’ women voters are preparing to run for political office MORE (Wis.) and Maggie Hassan Margaret (Maggie) HassanOvernight Tech: Net neutrality repeal sparks backlash | Dems push FCC to delay repeal vote | Apple, Ireland reach deal over B tax bill | Facebook launches Messenger for kids Overnight Regulation: Justices let full travel ban take effect | Trump slashes Utah land protections | Ban on sport betting teeters at high court Group of senators calls on FCC to delay net neutrality vote MORE (N.H.) each quickly followed Gillibrand in saying Franken should resign.
By the end of the day more than half of the Democratic caucus — ranging from members of leadership to red-state senators to progressives and 2020 hopefuls — had said it was time for Franken to go.
“[We’ve] just seen that the charges, credible charges, continued to keep coming, and I thought it might have been an isolated incident or two, but it seems to be that there was a pattern of conduct,” Sen. Dick Durbin Richard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley offers DACA fix tied to tough enforcement measures Schumer downplays shutdown chances over DACA fight Immigration in spotlight as budget battle intensifies MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters.
Murray added that the latest allegations showed that “this is a persistent pattern and needs to be addressed.”
The breaking point for Senate Democrats came when Politico published a story where a former congressional aide said Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006. He called the alleged incident “categorically not true.”
Though Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer Charles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (D-N.Y.) didn’t publicly call for Franken’s resignation until Wednesday evening, a person familiar with their discussions said he called Franken immediately after the Politico story published, before the resignation calls started, to tell him he needed to step down.
Schumer also urged Franken to resign during a “series of phone calls” throughout Wednesday, the source said, and had a meeting with Franken and his wife at Schumer’s apartment.
A Democratic aide told The Hill that senators had been privately discussing what to do about Franken “for a while” before the latest allegations surfaced on Wednesday.
“This latest story certainly prompted continued conversations, and this morning members talked to each other about not waiting any longer to come out and call for him to resign,” the aide added.