Host of Democratic senators call on Franken to resign

Al Drago/The New York Times/file

Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Senator Al Franken’s support among his fellow Democrats is cratering as a host of Democratic senators Wednesday called upon him to resign, including at least 11 women.

Both senators from Massachusetts joined the calls for Franken to resign. In a tweet, Ed Markey called the allegations against Franken “unacceptable” and said he should step down. And an aide to Elizabeth Warren told the Globe that Warren told Franken he should resign, and she later issued a statement through her staff calling on him to step down.


Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Patty Murray of Washington, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Dianne Feinstein of California all called on Franken to step down.

Minority leader Chuck Schumer also called on Franken to resign early Wednesday evening, saying that although he considers Franken “a dear friend,” the Minnesota senator “has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate.”

In addition to Markey, several of Franken’s male Democratic colleagues also joined the calls, including Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael F. Bennet of Colorado, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Jack Reed and Sheldon White House of Rhode Island, and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination but remains an independent, also called on Franken to resign.

Maine Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, tweeted on Wednesday that Franken should step down in light of the ‘‘growing number of allegations against him.’’


The calls came as another woman accused Franken of sexual misconduct in an account to Politico.

Faced with multiple calls to resign, Franken’s office says he will have an announcement on Thursday.

‘‘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,’’ Gillibrand said.

The demands came in rapid succession after Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied a new sexual misconduct accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide that he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The Minnesota Democrat said in a statement that the allegation, reported by Politico, was ‘‘categorically not true.’’

The woman, who was not identified by name, said Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said she ducked to avoid his lips, and that Franken told her: ‘‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’’


Franken, in his statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right as an entertainer was ‘‘preposterous.’’

But the tide quickly turned against Franken on Wednesday morning. Fellow Democrats had previously been cautious and respected Franken’s right to cooperate with an ethics probe. But the steady stream of allegations has female Democrats fed up.

‘‘I'm shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior,’’ Murray said. ‘‘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.’’

Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

From left, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Gretchen Carlson, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., held a news conference to introduce legislation to curb sexual harassment in the workplace, on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The allegations against Franken began in mid-November, when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour.

Several other allegations have followed, including a woman who says that Franken put his hand on her buttocks during a picture pose at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women, who asked to remain anonymous, have told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo op on a USO tour in 2003.

Franken has apologized for his behavior, but he has also disputed some of the allegations.