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Democratic senators call on Al Franken to resign; he plans statement tomorrow

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (Michael Reynolds / EPA)
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (Michael Reynolds / EPA)

Democratic senators, starting with six women, demanded the resignation of Sen. Al Franken on Wednesday, as another woman surfaced to say that the Minnesota senator had kissed her against her wishes.

Within minutes of each other Wednesday morning, Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Patty Murray of Washington, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Claire McCaskill of Missouri forcefully called on their colleague to leave office.

Shortly after, several other Democratic senators joined the growing calls for Franken to step down. 

As the calls grew, Franken’s office announced that he plans to make a statement Thursday about his future.

Until Wednesday, most Democrats had argued that Franken’s alleged acts—kissing women against their will, mock-groping a woman during a USO tour and grabbing other women’s buttocks—deserved an Ethics Committee review. But they had not demanded that he resign.

The senators acted shortly after Politico reported that a former congressional aide had come forward to claim that Franken had kissed her when she accompanied her boss to an appearance on Franken’s radio show. The incident took place almost three years before he won his Senate seat in 2008.

Franken, a comedian before he turned to politics, denied the latest accusation but has acknowledged other misconduct.

But the statements from the senators made clear that they had decided the time for debating the incidents had passed.

“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,” Gillibrand said.

McCaskill was more abrupt.

“Al Franken should resign,” she tweeted.

On Tuesday, the longest-serving member of the House, Democrat John Conyers of Michigan, resigned after facing a raft of sexual harassment allegations and demands that he step down. Republicans have yet to make similar demands of Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold, who paid a settlement to an aide after harassing her.

9:35 This post was updated with Franken’s office saying he plans a statement tomorrow.

9:12 a.m. This post was updated with additional senators joining the call for Franken’s resignation.

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