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story.lead_photo.caption 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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  • JakeTidmore
    December 7, 2017 at 6:13 p.m.

    So Packie supports pedophilia and groping women as long as the jerk doing it (and saying he's doing it) is a Republican. He's the worse kind of parrot - one with no feathers, for sure.
    Rep. Franks (R) just resigned. Just maybe, there's some integrity left in the GOP (as long as you ignore several women with well-documented claims regarding Trump & Moore).
    The Man Who Does Waffles Better Than Belgium Award goes to Tommy Cotton. "The people of Alabama are going to decide Roy Moore's fate," Sen. Tom Cotton said today. "The people of Alabama are going to make that decision just like the people of this country made their decision last year on Donald Trump."
    Just like the spineless, morally-bankrupt Republicans who won't stand up for women, Cotton straddles the fence so hard his crotch his hurting.
    Pukie - you DA goober, too many Republicans and independents are questioning Moore and Trump for you to falsely claim ANYBODY is parroting Democrats on this issue. If we're parroting anyone, it's honest folks who are tired of such men lying to the public. It's funny how you went eunuch all of a sudden now that Clinton & Franken are not the ones on the grill.

  • Shearload
    December 7, 2017 at 7:58 p.m.

    I think the Democrats are clearing out the distractions, hoping for a Moore win in Alabama. Moore will not resign. Trump shows no inclination to resign. The Democrats want to focus on these two predators next year.

  • LR1955
    December 7, 2017 at 8:33 p.m.

    "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me."

  • PopMom
    December 7, 2017 at 9:24 p.m.

    Good comments, RBear and Jake.

  • Packman
    December 7, 2017 at 10:02 p.m.

    Hey Jake - WTF is wrong with you? I never even remotely said I support pedophilia or unapproved groping. Are you drunk, again?

  • PopMom
    December 8, 2017 at 5:23 a.m.


    If you support Trump, you support unapproved groping. If you support Moore, you support pedophilia. It's as simple as that.

  • RBear
    December 8, 2017 at 6:43 a.m.

    Agree PM. Tbis “let the voters decide” BS is a deflection from having to take s stand and hide behind the voters. Who cares what the voters think in this election when it comes to Moore’s sexual abuse history? You are either against it or support it.

  • PopMom
    December 8, 2017 at 6:48 a.m.

    I just saw Franken's latest accuser on CNN, and now, I am having buyer's remorse about thinking that he should resign. His latest accuser, Tina Dupuy, accused him of "groping" her when he placed his hand on her WAIST after she ASKED HIM to pose for a picture. She claims that he "grabbed her flesh" and that she felt uncomfortable because she had gained weight. She also seems to have a history of mental health issues. I think Franken got screwed in the name of Democratic political correctness so that they could take down Trump and Moore. Oh well....

    Now, the story of the Republican congressman who resigned because he allegedly asked two staffers to serve as surrogate Moms, seems a little cagey as well. If this is all he did, it may have been inappropriate, but not really sexual harassment. I am assuming that there must be more to the story. If not, he is another victim of overreaction.