Democratic Senators Call On Franken to Resign

Democratic Senators Call On Franken to Resign
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A chorus of Democratic senators urged Sen. Al Franken to resign Wednesday morning after another accusation of sexual misconduct against the Minnesota lawmaker.

Well over a dozen senators, including 11 women, called on Franken to leave office, with several saying the allegations showed a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior. In the weeks since the first accusations emerged – for which Franken apologized -- Democrats had not urged him to step down, instead supporting an ethics investigation into the matter. But a new allegation Wednesday morning appeared to open the door for the resignation wave.

“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said in a statement.

Franken’s office, contacted for a response, said the senator will make an announcement on Thursday. There was no further elaboration.

The other female senators calling for his resignation were Maria Cantwell of Washington, Dianne Feinstein of California, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Kamala Harris of California, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Patty Murray of Washington. Murray is the third-ranking Democrat in the chamber, and the highest ranking Democratic woman in the Senate.

“I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior,” she said in a statement. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

The calls were part of a coordinated effort by the female senators, who have been discussing the path forward for their colleague. "Today’s action was a result of mounting frustrations over the increasing number of accusations," a Senate aide told RCP. "They felt that enough is enough and now was the time to ask him to step aside.”

Among the male senators echoing this call were Illinois' Dick Durbin -- the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber -- Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ed Markley of Massachusetts and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez did also. A spokesman for Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately return a request for comment on the matter.

Franken was originally accused three weeks ago of forcibly kissing and appearing to grope a woman during a USO tour in 2006, with the mimed groping documented by a photo. He apologized for that instance and said he fully supported an Ethics Committee investigation. Since then, several other women have come forward to accuse the two-term senator of inappropriate behavior. Politico reported Wednesday morning that a former Democratic congressional staffer said Franken forcibly tried to kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006. Franken denied that allegation to Politico.

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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