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Naylor writes: "Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, announced Thursday that he will be resigning."

Senator Al Franken. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Senator Al Franken. (photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Sen. Al Franken Announces He Will Resign 'in the Coming Weeks'

By Brian Naylor, NPR

07 December 17


en. Al Franken, D-Minn., facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, announced Thursday that he will be resigning. Speaking on the Senate floor, Franken said serving in the Senate has been "the great honor of my life" and that nothing he has done as a senator "has brought dishonor" on the institution. But he said, "it's become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator" for the people of Minnesota.

The committee had begun a preliminary investigation into charges from several women that Franken tried to kiss them or inappropriately touch them. Some of the alleged incidents did take place while Franken was in office.

In his remarks, Franken noted what he called "the irony" — that he is stepping down, "while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assaults 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." Franken was referring to President Trump, who has faced accusations of sexual misconduct that he denies, and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican.

"I am proud that during my time in the Senate I have used my power to be a champion of women and that I have earned a reputation as someone that respects the women I work alongside every day," he said on the Senate floor. "I know there has been a very different picture of me painted in the last few weeks, but I know who I really am."

He said he would be resigning "in the coming weeks."

On Wednesday, about two-thirds of the Democrats in the Senate — including almost all of the women in the Senate Democratic Caucus — called for Franken to step down. Among those urging him to resign were the top three Democrats in the chamber — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. In addition, Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also called for Franken to step down.

Franken was again accused of sexual misconduct as recently as Wednesday. A woman told Politico that Franken tried to kiss her after she appeared on his radio show in 2006 prior to his election to the Senate. The woman, who was not named in the article, said Franken claimed, "It's my right as an entertainer." Franken denied the allegation. "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 said in a statement, according to Politico.

In The Atlantic, writer Tina Dupuy said she was groped by Franken in early 2009. It was not clear from the Atlantic report whether the publication had reached out to Franken for comment and, if so, how Franken had responded.

Calling for Franken's resignation was clearly a difficult decision for some Senate Democrats. Many cited their friendships with the former Saturday Night Live comedian and writer. He has done fundraisers for some of them, and he has held positions on issues, including abortion rights, that are in line with the views of most Democratic female officeholders.

Franken was first elected to the Senate in 2008. After leaving SNL, he authored several books, among them Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot. Franken then became a radio talk show host himself in 2004 on the liberal Air America network. In 2008, he challenged Republican incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in Minnesota. The race was exceedingly close; after several counts, it was determined Franken won by 312 votes, a margin finally upheld by Minnesota's state Supreme Court.

Franken wasn't sworn in until July 7, 2009.

Once seated, Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, and they were able to overcome Republican opposition and pass the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," in Congress' upper chamber. Franken took a predictably liberal position on issues, winning a 100 percent liberal rating from The Almanac of American Politics. He also adopted a new tone, eschewing the jokes of his previous career for a more serious demeanor.

He had a much easier time winning re-election in 2014, capturing 53 percent of the vote.

This year, Franken played a key role in the questioning of President Trump's Cabinet choices, including on the Senate Judiciary Committee where he grilled then-Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions on his contacts with Russia. Sessions, who had been a top Trump campaign surrogate, told Franken he didn't recall any communications with Russians. But after reports surfaced that Sessions did indeed meet with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Franken had been talked about as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020. There was even a "Draft Al Franken" website. During an interview to promote his most recent book, Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, he told NPR's Scott Detrow he wasn't interested in the Oval Office, and in a comment that has special resonance amid the current controversy, he said he was "very happy being a United States senator representing the people of Minnesota."

It will be up to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, to pick a successor to Franken. The successor would then serve until a November 2018 special election determines who would serve out the last two years of Franken's term.

The slew of recent calls for Franken to step down came a day after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced his resignation Tuesday 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. After Conyers resigned, Politico reported that members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which Conyers had helped to found, saw a double standard in how the longtime African-American lawmaker had been treated and how other white politicians — including Franken — were being treated over similar claims of sexual misconduct.

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. your social media marketing partner


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+20 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-12-07 16:06
I defintely don't know much about the circumstances of Franken's "sexual misconduct," but no one I've seen says he committed a criminal offense -- sex with a minor, rape, or the use of any force. It seems like his acts were impulsive cut-up. He's a comedian and he made a career of doing stupid and spontaneous things. Many times jokes like that backfire and don't work at all. But they are not criminal. They may piss off some people.

So I really don't know. It is a shame to see Franken resign while someone like Moore comes into the Senate. I understand Moore has only been accused and there has not been a trial or an independent investigation. But the allegations seem to be credible. AND the allegations are for criminal acts. He attempted to force sex or to have sex with minors.
+2 # Brice 2017-12-08 11:28
This is part of the Democratic establishment purging an actual Democrat for being an actual Democrat in the Democratic party.

How duplicitous of Democrats, and when there is the smallest speck of ambiguousness Dems will even work with Republicans to hack it away, when Republicans would just laught.

I don't know yet what to make that Bernie Sanders was on
the list suggesting Franken resign. I thought Bernie had more

The idea that Al Franken would have been arrested or cited for any of the things he was accused of doing - without proof, and in some cases without even and ID of the accuser is very dubious.

Where does that happen except where the system has to "bend reality" to protect itself. That was why I wanted Al to hang in there.

The notion that this is going to draw Americans closer to the Democrats for their narking and turning on their own shows that either Dems do not know anything about human nature, or that
they are something other than what we have been told they are - namely a fake party.
+3 # pappajohn 2017-12-07 19:33
Franken was a good senator, but a much better radio host and he reached many more people that way. Let's hope he goes back to his real talent: comedy.
+2 # Brice 2017-12-08 04:50
It is sad that Democrats think it is more important
to be FAKE & betray one of their own in an effort to
posture as more moral American people or that the
attack on Al Franken is going to make Republicans
hesitant to bring up Bill Clinton. Look at the
Clinton times & see why it was very clear why to
support Clinton. We do know Clinton actually did
something wrong from the blue sweater.
We don't know that about Franken. He was allowed to
be cold-cocked by anonymous operatives who were clever
enough to get Democrats to join in the lynching.

I am nauseated by Democrats & especially disappointed in
Bernie Sanders who was on the list suggesting
Franken resign.

Al Franken had more fighting instinct than the
whole lot of them, which was why it was important for
all of the Democratic dumb-asses to support him.

In the past weeks I have found myself defending Al Franken
who I never used to like, for the purpose of:

1. Make people understand what a political operation looks like.

2. Realize that we are never going to have a perfect politician, & if tearing down is to be done, it needs to be just and with due process to all or only in urgent cases - ie not Franken.

Virtually all Democratic elite have family and economic ties with corporations & bankers. Dig in to them & you find things that eviscerate their well faked images.

Prepare to see Democrats lose, and pretend they don't know why and blame Republican deplorables for Dem. cowardice.
+2 # RLF 2017-12-08 06:48
"Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. In addition, Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also called for Franken to step down."

What more do we need to not support these Wall St. Whores any more! I'm so done with the democratic party!
+5 # ddd-rrr 2017-12-08 07:14
Al Franken's questioning of the candidate for a position on the Supreme Court,
Neil Gorsuch, was brilliant -- and it demonstrated why Gorsuch should have been
disqualified for that position due to a lack of wisdom and balance in his decision
in a particular case. But, unfortunately, he "won" the seat on that court anyway.
I will miss the brilliance and wisdom displayed by Franken in the Senate.
Would that all others in that body were as able as Al Franken.

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