Al Franken, the embattled Democratic politician from Minnesota, will resign from his post in the U.S. Senate “in the coming weeks.” Franken’s decision to step down comes not long after many of his party colleagues, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), asked him to do so following the seventh accusation of sexual assault. His departure also comes mere days after Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) finally decided to retire after facing several accusations of sexual misconduct with female staffers, and subsequent calls for him to step down. Both men initially balked at the idea of resigning.
During Thursday’s address, Franken said “in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.” He also threw in a few relevant references to President Trump and Senate hopeful Roy Moore:
“I of all people am 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 has become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them.”
Minnesota Public Radio initially reported Franken was expected to resign late Wednesday, but the senator’s official Twitter account denied the report. “Not accurate,” read a tweet. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family. Please update your story.” Moments before his official address on the Senate floor, however, CNN reported Franken would definitely be resigning, according to several sources. Soon after, Franken confirmed these reports during his Senate address.
Since mid-November, when the first allegation of inappropriate behavior was levied against him by KABC TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden, Franken has issued several apologies for his reported past misconduct. Whenever calls for him to resign were made, however, the senator said he would await the outcome of the Ethics Committee’s investigation. “I’ve been trying to take responsibility by apologizing,” he told congressional reporters during a rare press conference in late November. “We are going to cooperate completely with the ethics investigation.”