Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, announced on Thursday he will soon be resigning from the U.S. Senate, following a wave of calls for his resignation from his Democratic colleagues. Multiple women have alleged he inappropriately touched them or tried to forcibly kiss them.
In the coming weeks, “I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” Franken said on the Senate floor Thursday.
“Let me be clear, I may be resigning my seat but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken added. “I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen and as an activist.”
More than 30 of Franken’s Democratic colleagues in the Senate, starting with New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, called for him to step down, following another woman’s accusation that Franken tried to kiss her against her will. On Wednesday afternoon, Franken’s office said he would make an announcement on Thursday, though it did not say what the topic of his announcement would be. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Franken Wednesday and also advised him to resign.
As recently as Wednesday evening, Franken denied reports that he was preparing to resign.
Once Franken departs the Senate, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, has the authority to appoint a temporary replacement. Then, eventually, a special primary election would be held, if he resigns before June. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, also a Democrat, is up for re-election next year. Franken is up for re-election in 2020.
Franken’s departure is the second announced on Capitol Hill in a week, after Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, announced he would be leaving the House effective immediately amid allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment leveled against him.