Al Franken Under Pressure As Group Of Democratic Senators Calls For Him To Resign

December 6, 2017

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

Several Democratic senators, including the chamber’s second- and third-ranking Democrats, called Wednesday for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to step down in the midst of allegations that he inappropriately touched several women.

“Senator Franken’s behavior was wrong. He has admitted to what he did,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate Democratic whip, tweeted, adding Franken “should resign from the Senate.”

“I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat, tweeted, “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., also issued statements or postings on social media Wednesday calling on Franken to step down.

Gillibrand, in a Facebook post, said she has been “shocked and disappointed” to learn that a colleague whom she is “fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable.”

In her statement, Hirono cited Time magazine’s naming of the “#MeToo” movement as its person of the year, saying it recognized what “women have always known: There are men among us who use their positions of power and influence to manipulate, harass and assault women.” Hirono said she struggled with her decision, calling Franken “a good Senator and a friend. “But,” she said, “that cannot excuse his behavior and his treatment of women.”

The ten women were joined by eight male Senate Democrats: Durbin and Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon. And Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also called on Franken to resign.

There is mounting frustration in the Senate Democratic Caucus about the allegations against Franken, according to three Senate Democratic aides who work for three separate senators who are calling for Franken to resign.

Earlier in the day, Politico published a story about a new, anonymous accuser against Franken. The woman told Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006. Franken denies that allegation.

Several other women have said Franken engaged in sexual misconduct with them — including groping or kissing them or attempting to do so. Most but not all of the alleged incidents occurred before Franken was elected to the Senate. The Senate Ethics Committee has begun an inquiry into the allegations against Franken. Franken’s office said Wednesday that the senator will make an announcement Thursday but did not provide any more details.

The calls for Franken to step down came a day after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced his resignation after more than 50 years in the House of Representatives. The end of Conyers’ half-century tenure in office was the result of days of pressure after multiple allegations of sexual harassment were leveled against him. Another House Democrat, Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, is also under pressure to resign after a former campaign staffer alleged he had sexually harassed her.

Here is a list of the Democrats who have called on Franken to resign:

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
“I believe it is best for Senator Franken to resign.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct are never acceptable. I understand Senator Franken will make an announcement tomorrow morning, and I’m confident he’ll do the right thing and step aside.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
“I have listened to my female colleagues, to women I work with and women in my life. And I agree the time has come for Senator Franken to step aside.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
“Senator Franken’s actions are disturbing, egregious, and demonstrate a pattern of serious misconduct and abuse. It is time for Senator Franken to resign from office.”

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

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
“Senator Franken’s conduct and behavior are unacceptable and he should resign.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., No. 2 Democrat in the Senate
“Senator Franken’s behavior was wrong. He has admitted to what he did. He should resign from the Senate.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
“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.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
“Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.
“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.
“We must commit to zero tolerance – which is where I believe we as a country and Congress should be – and that means Senator Franken should step down.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii
“Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
“Senator Franken’s situation has become untenable. I am concerned that even a prompt Ethics Committee investigation and recommendations will not come soon enough. He has to step aside.”

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.
“I join my colleagues in calling for Senator Franken to step aside and resign. Sexual harassment is unacceptable, completely inappropriate and cannot be tolerated.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
“Al Franken should resign.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.
“Senator Franken has said he will make an announcement tomorrow, and I hope that he will do the right thing. It is in the best interest of our country for him to step aside.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the No 3. Democrat in the Senate
“I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee
Sen. Al Franken should step down. Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in everyday industry and workplace, and that includes our party.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
“Sexual harassment is unacceptable. I believe Senator Franken should do the right thing and resign.”

NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis and NPR producer Brakkton Booker contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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