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Sen. Al Franken quits amid sexual misconduct allegations, points to GOP tolerance of Trump

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 7, 2017 at 11:08 a.m. Updated December 7, 2017 at 5:36 p.m.

in-this-nov-29-2017-photo-senate-health-education-labor-and-pensions-committee-member-sen-al-franken-d-minn-arrives-at-a-senate-health-education-labor-and-pensions-committee-hearing-on-capitol-hill-in-washington-an-army-veteran-has-accused-franken-of-inappropriately-touching-her-more-than-a-decade-ago-while-she-was-on-a-military-deployment-to-kuwait-ap-photocarolyn-kaster

In this Nov. 29, 2017 photo, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee member Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., arrives at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. An Army veteran has accused Franken of inappropriately touching her more than a decade ago while she was on a military deployment to Kuwait. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)



WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, a rising political star only weeks ago, said Thursday he's resigning from Congress, succumbing to a torrent of sexual harassment allegations and evaporating support from fellow Democrats. But he fired a parting shot at President Donald Trump and other Republicans he said have survived much worse accusations.

"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," Franken said.

The 66-year-old Minnesotan, a former Saturday Night Live comedian who made a successful leap to liberal U.S. senator, announced his decision in a Senate chamber three weeks after the first accusations of sexual misconduct emerged but just a day after most of his Democratic colleagues proclaimed he had to go.

In largely unapologetic remarks that lasted 11 minutes, Franken said "all women deserve to be heard" but asserted that some accusations against him were untrue. He called himself "a champion of women" during his Senate career who fought to improve people's lives.

"Even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it's all been worth it," he said.

Franken's departure, which he said would occur in "coming weeks," made him the latest figure from politics, journalism and the arts to be toppled since October. That's when the first articles appeared revealing sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein and energizing the #MeToo movement in which women have named men they say abused or harassed them.

Democratic Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton will name a temporary successor, who will serve until a special election next November.

Franken's comments appended a melancholy coda to the political career of the one-time TV funnyman who became one of his party's most popular and bellicose liberals.

Just two days earlier, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., a civil-rights hero who'd been the House's longest-serving current member, resigned after facing sexual harassment allegations of his own.

On a 2005 audio tape released shortly before last year's presidential election, Trump is heard talking about grabbing women, and several women accused him of sexual assaults. Women in Alabama have accused GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of unwanted sexual contact and pursuing romantic relationships when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties during the 1970s.

Asked about Franken's comment about him Thursday, Trump merely replied, "I didn't hear it, sorry."

At least eight women had accused Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior. Until this week, he'd said he'd remain in the Senate and cooperate with an investigation into his behavior.

The breaking point came Wednesday, when a former Democratic congressional aide said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an accusation he denied. Hours later, another woman said he'd inappropriately squeezed "a handful of flesh" on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

The accusations started last month when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan. She also released a photo of him with his hands at her breasts as she napped aboard a military plane.

On Thursday, Franken walked to the Senate chamber shortly before noon, hand-in-hand with his wife of 35 years, Franni. As he spoke, members of his family watched from the visitors' gallery, some sobbing. Franken said that thanks to them, "I'm going to be just fine."

Almost two-dozen colleagues listened silently at their desks, some dabbing their eyes. Those watching were nearly all Democrats and many were women, including New Yorker Kirsten Gillibrand, who released the first of what became a flood of public statements Wednesday calling for Franken's resignation. Also present was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who one Democrat said had spent much of Wednesday persuading his friend to leave.

After Franken spoke, many of his colleagues lined up to hug him.

He said he was leaving because he couldn't handle an ethics panel investigation while representing his state effectively. He said he'd remain an activist: "I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice."

A star on Saturday Night Live, the Harvard-educated Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008 by 312 votes. In Washington, he distanced himself from his comedic background, largely avoided national reporters and burrowed into consumer issues. He found his voice as a sharp critic of Trump administration officials and has been listed as a potential 2020 presidential contender.

His announcement prompted immediate maneuvering for his seat.

Among the possibilities for Minnesota Gov. Dayton's temporary appointment is Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a trusted Dayton ally. The winner of a special election in November 2018 would serve through the end of Franken's term in January 2021.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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Comments on: Sen. Al Franken quits amid sexual misconduct allegations, points to GOP tolerance of Trump

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gohogs17 says... December 7, 2017 at 3:05 p.m.

So long, auf wiedersehen, bye bye, Al!

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JakeTidmore says... December 7, 2017 at 3:11 p.m.

Now tis time to bid farewell to Roy Moore and Donnie Trump for the same reasons. Can't have double standards as our long-winded conservative parrot compadres like to squawk about. Time for the Republicans to cull their herd also.

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ARMNAR says... December 7, 2017 at 3:34 p.m.

Yep. Either Trump and Moore step aside, or the GOP will rightfully claim the title of "World's biggest hypocrites."

Oh...wait...they won that trophy during the Reagan years. Never mind.

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Packman says... December 7, 2017 at 4:08 p.m.

And amgoo and Jake parrot the DNC talking points of "now do Trump". These morons are so predictable.
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Franken only resigned for purely political purpose. That's now crystal clear. President Trump and Roy Moore need to resist 100% if they truly feel the did nothing wrong and say "to hell" with these political games.
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Hey amgoo - Know what other trophy R's won? Neal Gorsuch on SCOTUS. Choke on it, libs.

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PopulistMom says... December 7, 2017 at 4:12 p.m.

Packman,

We are just all too in the Christmas spirit waiting for more arrests in Russiagate. Don Jr. has the goods on Pop. LOL.

( | suggest removal )

TravisBickle says... December 7, 2017 at 4:18 p.m.

@jfish, I stand corrected, how could I forget the punk who wrote "Roman Vomitorium" back in his '70's SNL heyday?! He actually had two distinct periods on SNL, the 70's and again in the '90's. But he can not speak extemporaneously to save his life!!

( | suggest removal )

Delta123 says... December 7, 2017 at 4:28 p.m.

Al's farewell address, with all his well crafted language (Clintonian Clauses anyone?) was one for the books. Classic non-denial denial. "I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution". And who can forget this doozie..... "You know an important part of the conversation we've been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. 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 everyday. I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am". So no, Al didn't really own up and depart in dignity, now did he?

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RBear says... December 7, 2017 at 5:36 p.m.

Regardless what Franken said, Democrats intervened on this and he is gone. He resigned of his own will and did the right thing. Trump makes abusive statements about women, has accusers, and supports a pedophile. Yes, that's why several of us are taking shots at Trump. His record of lying makes it hard to believe he is innocent.
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Roy Moore is an accused pedophile with women coming forward after gaining courage from the #MeToo campaign. While the time came after the primary date, it directly correlates to the #MeToo push. These women felt they didn't have a voice in a culture that often exonerated the male and made females feel like victims.
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Will Republicans do the right thing? We all thought they would a few weeks ago until they realized how razor thin their margin is in the Senate. Their selfish political interests overrule integrity. But that's no secret after seeing how they treated the tax reform bill which raises the debt and how they treated healthcare reform A party in moral decay.

( | suggest removal )

BoudinMan says... December 7, 2017 at 6:11 p.m.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigns today amid allegations against him of sexual abuse.

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