Thursday, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., announced on the Senate floor that he will be resigning from his position in Congress within the next few weeks in the wake of mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“I know that in my heart that nothing that I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the ethics committee would agree,” said Franken. “Nevertheless, I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”
Franken initially came under fire in November for his alleged behavior toward radio host Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour in 2006. Franken later apologized to Tweeden, saying that he remembered parts of the encounter differently. Franken was not serving in the Senate at the time.
Since then, seven additional women have come forward with allegations against Franken, the most recent of which prompted many of Franken’s Democratic colleagues to call for his resignation.
“Over the last few weeks a number of women have come forward to talk about how my actions have affected them. I was shocked. I was upset, but in responding to their claims, I wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously,” said Franken. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.”
Though Franken emphasized that his behavior toward female colleagues and staffers in the Senate would be found to be entirely appropriate, he said that he could not both represent the people of Minnesota while also pursuing the ethics committee investigation process.
“I am proud that during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion of women, and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there has been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am,” said Franken.
The senator also took the opportunity to bring up sexual assault and misconduct allegations that have been brought against members of the Republican party.
“I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man that 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,” said Franken, referring to the 2005 Access Hollywood tape on which then-businessman Donald Trump bragged about assaulting women and to allegations that republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore dated and sexually assaulted teenage girls while in his 30s.
Franken did not give a definitive date for his planned resignation, potentially leaving room for Democrats to count on his vote in upcoming tax and budget negotiations, which have been particularly close in the Senate.
Franken added that he had faith that members of the Senate would find the courage to “keep asking the tough questions” and to hold the Trump administration accountable.
“Even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it,” said Franken, speaking of the work he has done over the course of his political career. “I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”