Minnesota Democrat Al Franken announced in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday that he will resign as a senator “in the coming weeks,” bowing to pressure after a string of women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct and harassment.
His resignation came a day after two more women spoke out against him, bringing the total number of accusers to eight. The latest wave of accusations prompted more than three dozen Senate Democrats—led by the female members of the caucus—to call for his resignation. Franken had initially pledged to stay on, but by Thursday, he had accepted the inevitable.
In the speech, he said he could no longer serve Minnesota effectively. However, he was far from fully contrite. He calling himself a “champion of women,” and insisted that he was still innocent of some of the charges against him. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Others I remember quite differently.” He also said it was ironic that he was being forced out while Donald Trump, who has bragged about sexual assault, is still in the White House, and accused child predator Roy Moore could soon be a senator himself.
The allegations—which have included reports that Franken touched and kissed women without their consent and made unwanted sexual advances—first surfaced last month, when a Los Angeles radio host published a piece, along with photographic evidence, saying Franken groped her while she slept during a USO tour more than a decade ago.
Franken’s downfall comes during an unprecedented national moment in which women have come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful men. The floodgates were thrown open by reporting on Harvey Weinstein and widespread sexual harassment in the halls of Congress. On Tuesday, Michigan Congressman John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the U.S. House, announced his immediate retirement after numerous women alleged he sexually harassed them as staffers in his office.
While critics have charged the Democrats were slow in calling for Franken to step aside over the allegations—instead initially calling for him to cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation—his resignation comes less than a week before the special Senate election in Alabama, where many national Republicans, including President Trump, are supporting Roy Moore even after multiple women have said he preyed on them when they were as young as 14.
This is a developing story and is being updated.