Following multiple allegations of sexual harassment—and calls from numerous Senate Democrats to resign from his seat—Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced on Thursday that he would be stepping down “in the coming weeks.”
At least six women have come forward to accuse Franken of unwanted groping or kissing. On Wednesday, dozens of his fellow Democratic senators called on Franken to resign, with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri being the first lawmakers to do so.
Appearing on the Senate floor, Franken began his emotional speech first by addressing the Me Too movement and stating that “all women deserve to be heard.” Though Franken has previously apologized for some of the accusations, he did not offer an explicit apology in his address and said that he remembered some of the allegations differently than the women.
As his speech continued, Franken offered a pointed reminder of the sexual assault allegations that have been brought forward against President Donald Trump, as well as the women who have come forward accusing Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual abuse.
“I am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who 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.”
Though Franken will be exiting the Senate, he noted that his dedication to public service is not over.
“Let me be clear. I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken said. “I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in as a citizen and as an activist. Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day.”
As Franken left the Senate floor, many of his fellow Democrats could be seen “sniffling or openly sobbing,” according to CNN. And in a phone call to the network, Leeann Tweeden—the first woman to accuse Franken of sexual harassment—called the situation “lose-lose.”
“I’m not celebrating his resignation. It’s a lose-lose situation,” Tweeden said. “I’m not celebrating his resignation but we also can’t tolerate hypocrisy. We can’t have our leaders saying one thing and doing another.”