Franken faces recent accusations, weighing his future

WASHINGTON (AP) – Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, going through recent allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing assist from fellow Democrats, seems to be getting ready to resigning from the Senate.

Franken scheduled an announcement for Thursday, although his workplace tweeted Wednesday night that he had not made “a final decision” on resigning.

But a majority of the Senate’s Democrats referred to as on the two-term lawmaker to give up after a lady emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, one other lady mentioned Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist whereas posing for a photograph along with her in 2009. That introduced the variety of ladies alleging misconduct by Franken to at the very least eight.

Franken, the previous comic who made his identify on “Saturday Night Live,” faces a refrain of calls to step apart, and Democratic senators mentioned they anticipated their liberal colleague to resign.

“Enough is enough,” mentioned Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”

Gillibrand was the primary to name for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, however a torrent of Democrats shortly adopted.

“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s conduct,” mentioned Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”

Though the writing seemed to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not sure. A tweet posted Wednesday night on Franken’s Twitter account mentioned: “Senator Franken is speaking along with his household presently and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reviews of a last choice are inaccurate.”

Late within the day, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

“I contemplate Senator Franken a pricey pal and drastically respect his accomplishments, however he has the next obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he ought to step down instantly,” Schumer mentioned.

The resignation calls for got here in fast succession although Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied the brand new accusation that got here from a former Democratic congressional aide, who mentioned he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio present in 2006.

The lady, who was not recognized, informed Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she or he was amassing her belongings. She mentioned that she ducked to keep away from his lips and that Franken informed her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

Franken, in a press release, mentioned the thought he would declare such conduct without any consideration was “preposterous.”

But it was quickly clear that his place had turn out to be untenable.

Fellow Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, “I am confident he will make the right decision.”

The stress solely mounted Tuesday, when Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned after quite a few allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces stress to resign as effectively over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former marketing campaign employee.

While Franken apparently is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could possibly be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 particular election. Multiple ladies have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them after they have been teenagers and he was a deputy district legal professional in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it might create a political nightmare for Republicans, who’ve promised an ethics probe.

A nationwide dialog about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the closely publicized case of film mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, together with rape, by actresses and different ladies. Just on Wednesday, Time journal named as its individual of the 12 months the “silence breakers” – ladies who’ve come ahead on sexual harassment.

Punishment has been swift for leaders in leisure, media and sports activities whereas members of Congress have tried to outlive the onslaught of allegations.

Franken already confronted a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into earlier claims by a number of different ladies that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

The allegations started in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her throughout a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations adopted, together with a lady who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photograph on the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two ladies informed the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political occasions throughout his first marketing campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth lady, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast throughout a photograph on a USO tour in 2003.

Franken has apologized for his conduct however has additionally disputed a number of the allegations.

___

Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Washington and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.

 

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