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Democrats finally turn on Al Franken

by Carter Sherman
Dec 6 2017, 11:51am

Democratic senators called Wednesday for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation, just hours after Politico published a report detailing how Franken tried to forcibly kiss a former Democratic congressional aide.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first Senate Democrat to call for Franken’s resignation, writing in a Facebook post that she was “shocked and disappointed” to have learned of his behavior, which includes multiple allegations of groping and forcible kissing.

But, she wrote, “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.”

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill was more direct: “Al Franken should resign,” she tweeted.

Even the Democratic leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, agreed. “Senator Franken should resign,” he said in a statement. “I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.”

Franken denied the aide’s accusation Wednesday, telling Politico, “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.”

The aide is the seventh woman to accuse Franken of sexual harassment. Radio news host Leeann Tweeden became the first woman to come forward in November, when she wrote an essay detailing how Franken kissed her against her will during a 2006 United Services Organization tour and published a photo of Franken groping her as she slept.

In a statement to VICE News at the time, Franken said, “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, suddenly retired Tuesday following the revelation last week that he’d settled a 2015 wrongful termination complaint by a former staffer. The staffer said she was fired after she refused to “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

As the latest allegation against Franken sunk in, the list of Democratic senators calling for the Minnesota Democrat’s resignation continued to grow throughout Wednesday. Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Washington Sen. Patty Murray, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Michigan Rep. Debbie Stabenow, North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden all said Franken should step down. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is technically an independent but caucuses with Democrats, echoed those calls.

“We can’t just believe women when it’s convenient,” Casey tweeted.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also reportedly urged Franken, in private, to resign. Franken’s office told NBC News that the senator plans to make “an announcement” Thursday.