Senator Al Franken resigned from Congress this morning in response to sexual-harassment allegations from five women. “Let me be clear: I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken said on the Senate floor. “I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen and as an activist, but Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day.”
On November 16, Franken’s first accuser, KABC news anchor Leeann Tweeden, published an account claiming that during a USO tour in December 2006, the then-comedian gave her an unwanted kiss and pawed at her breasts while she slept. Texas resident Lindsay Menz then asserted that Franken grabbed her butt at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Army veteran Stephanie Kemplin told CNN that while she was stationed in Kuwait, Franked grabbed her right breast as they took a photo together. Two additional accusers have declined to be identified by name.
Franken, a Democrat, was elected as Minnesota’s junior senator in 2008. In his 11-minute speech, he admitted, “I’m going to be just fine,” thanks to the support of his family, and singled out President Trump and Roy Moore for their own alleged misdeeds. “I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that 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.”
Yesterday, 39 Democratic Senators publicly called for Franken’s resignation, including New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand and California’s Kamala Harris. Franken was an original writer on “Saturday Night Live,” and later a cast member; he received three Emmys for his work on the series. Female writers from the show’s 43-season history released an open letter supporting Franken late last month. His said his departure will take effect “in the coming weeks.”
Watch Franken’s full speech here.