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Sen. Al Franken announced on Thursday that he will resign from the Senate in the coming weeks, after eight women accused him of forcibly kissing or groping them.
In an emotional speech on the Senate floor, the Minnesota Democrat largely denied the allegations against him and took time to kick President Donald Trump and Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who’s running for Senate, on his way out.
“Some of the allegations against me simply are not true. Others I remember very differently,” he said. “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution. And I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree.”
It’s worth noting that only one woman accused Franken, 66, of sexual misconduct while he was a sitting senator (since 2009). The other allegations occurred either during his run for Senate or earlier, when he was a touring comedian and had a radio show.
Franken has remained relatively silent about the numerous accusations that have emerged in the past three weeks, although he did apologize to some of the women. On Thursday, he told the Senate he had wanted to let them be heard and respect their experiences.
“I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done,” he added.
Franken also pointed out the “irony” of his situation, considering the flood of sexual assault allegations against President Trump — one of which is currently being litigated in civil court — as well as multiple women’s claims that Moore tried to date them as teenagers.
“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,” Franken said.
On Wednesday, 32 of Franken’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate called for his resignation, following accusations from a seventh woman, a Democratic congressional aide, who said Franken attempted to kiss her in 2006 and called it his “right as an entertainer.”
Minnesota’s Democratic governor will choose a replacement for Franken once he steps down.
Earlier this week, Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, also announced his retirement after numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.