Franken Goes Down Swinging

After a week spent limping along under the weight of accusations of sexual misconduct, Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation from the Senate Thursday morning.

“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator—nothing—has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree,” Franken said from the Senate floor. “Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”

The final straw appears to have been a seventh accusation of groping and forcible kissing that surfaced Wednesday morning, from a former congressional aide. Democratic leaders who had previously stuck by Franken began Wednesday to call for his resignation publicly. By Thursday, 33 senators—only one of whom, Susan Collins, was a Republican—had said Franken should step down.

Even as he resigned, Franken contested the accuracy of the accusations against him.

“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,” Franken said. “I think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true; others, I remember very differently.”

But Franken said that, true or not, the weight of the allegations against him had grown to such a pitch that they would make it impossible for him to effectively continue his work as a senator. And he noted pointedly that, while Democrats have begun to shun their own who have been tarred with such allegations, Republicans have been far more willing to close ranks around their members.

“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 of 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. “But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota.”

The Hill reported Thursday that Minnesota governor Mark Dayton is likely to appoint lieutenant governor Tina Smith as Franken’s replacement.

Franken’s resignation comes the same week as that of longtime Democratic congressman John Conyers, who also stands accused of sexual misconduct throughout his Washington career.

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard


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