As Franken's support collapses, Democrats expect resignation

2017-12-07 09:14
US Senator Al Franken. (Alex Brandon, AP file)

US Senator Al Franken. (Alex Brandon, AP file)

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Washington - His once-promising political career in shambles, Minnesota Senator Al Franken appeared on the verge of resigning after fellow Democrats led by female senators abandoned him on Wednesday over the mounting allegations of sexual misconduct that are roiling Capitol Hill.

A majority of the Senate's Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to get out after another woman emerged on Wednesday saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006.

That brought to at least seven the number of women accusing him of sexual impropriety.

READ: 'Ashamed' US Senator Franken back at work amid groping claims

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on Saturday Night Live, scheduled an announcement for Thursday. No topic was specified, but Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.

"Enough is enough," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. "We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard."

Torrent of demands

Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken's resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.

"I'm shocked and appalled by Senator Franken's behaviour," said Senator Patty Murray of Washington state. "It's clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It's time for him to step aside."

Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken's departure was not certain. A tweet posted on Wednesday evening on Franken's Twitter account said: "Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in DC tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate."

Late in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

"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," Schumer said.

Schumer called Franken immediately after the latest allegation - and before the torrent of demands for Franken's resignation from Democrats - and told him he needed to resign, said a Democrat familiar with the events.

Schumer met later in his apartment with Franken and Franken's wife, Franni, and repeated that message, and he did the same in additional talks with the senator throughout the day, said the Democrat, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez weighed in, too, asking Franken to resign and saying: "Sexual misconduct, harassment and assault have no place in the Democratic Party, the United States Congress, the White House or anywhere."

The resignation demands came in rapid succession even though Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

'Right as an entertainer'

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings.

She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: "It's my right as an entertainer."

Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was "preposterous".

But it was soon clear that his position had become untenable, and his office later issued a statement saying, "Senator Franken will be making an announcement tomorrow. More details to come."

Fellow Democratic Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, "I am confident he will make the right decision."

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