Sen. Al Franken announced his impending resignation during a dramatic speech on the Senate floor Thursday, caving into demands from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that he step down amid numerous allegations of inappropriate touching and other forms of sexual misconduct.
Franken, whose own party collectively turned on him Wednesday and demanded his resignation after yet another accuser came forward, framed his departure as not an admission of guilt but as a sacrifice he must make for the good of his constituency.
“Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation. Because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously. I think that was the right thing to do,” Franken said.
“I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven’t done,” he added. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.”
The embattled senator pointed to his record as a “champion of women” and insisted that “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing has brought dishonor this institution.”
“Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as member of the United States Senate,” Franken declared, taking a swipe at President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in the same breath.
“It’s about the people of Minnesota,” he continued. “It’s become clear that I can’t both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them. Let me be clear. I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice.”
On Wednesday, a coalition of Democratic female senators led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) came together to demand Franken’s resignation. They were quickly joined by numerous other Democratic legislators and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, all of whom called on Franken to surrender his seat.