As the number of women accusing Al Franken of inappropriate conduct grows ever larger, with allegations ranging from non-consensual kissing to lewd comments to groping, Franken’s Democratic colleagues in Congress have decided en masse that it is time for Franken to step down.
Franken was a highly regarded and well-loved senator before the allegations broke, and that made an impact on many Democrats’ responses. In their statements calling for the Minnesota senator’s resignation, The New York Times reports that Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Mazie Hirono mentioned their friendship with Franken as a complicating factor in their decision.
The first allegations brought against Franken were from Leeann Tweeden, the radio host and former Playboy model, who provided photographic evidence that Franken groped her in her sleep during a USO tour. Franken has apologized, but in the wave of accusations since, he has changed his tactic to claiming he doesn’t remember the alleged incidents. The public response to the claims about Franken’s behavior has been varied, though now that so many women have detailed Franken’s misconduct, there are significantly fewer people supporting the idea of the senator remaining in Congress.
The Washington Post
reports that the calls for Franken to step down began yesterday after the seventh woman came forward with details of groping at the hands of Franken. WaPo says the Minnesota senator is expected by insiders to announce his resignation today. While male senators had seemed content to wait for an ethics investigation, female senators led the call for a direct confrontation, not satisfied with waiting around for a committee’s decision after seven women had come forward. Per the Times:
But that did not head off a deluge that started when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York declared on Facebook, “Enough is enough.”
“As elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards—not the lowest,” Ms. Gillibrand wrote on Twitter. “The allegations against Sen. Franken describe behavior that cannot be tolerated. While he’s entitled to an Ethics Committee hearing, I believe he should step aside to let someone else serve.”
There has been no official word yet from Franken’s office.