Franken steps down, takes shot at Trump

Cropped Photo: Lorie Shaull / CC BY-SA 2.0

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and the allegations of sexual misconduct against him (all times local):

8 p.m.

Sen. Al Franken has reluctantly announced he's resigning from Congress, succumbing to a torrent of sexual harassment allegations.

But the Minnesota Democrat is firing a defiant parting shot at President Donald Trump and other Republicans.

He is pointing out what he calls "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 has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party."

That's a reference to Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of molesting teenage girls decades ago.

Franken says "all women deserve to be heard" but asserts that some accusations against him are untrue.

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12:35 p.m.

Minnesota Republicans are reaching out to former Gov. Tim Pawlenty about running in a race to replace Sen. Al Franken.

Franken says he is resigning after accusations by several women of sexual misconduct. That sets up a November 2018 election to serve the final two years of his term.

Republicans have also identified former Sen. Norm Coleman as a possible candidate.

Coleman has already posted on his personal Facebook page that he won't run. He narrowly lost to Franken in 2008 in a close election that included a monthslong vote count.

Pawlenty ran for president in 2012.

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12:30 p.m.

Sen. Al Franken says he's been an advocate for women. That's even as he resigns amid a torrent of sexual misconduct accusations.

The Minnesota Democrat says he's used his position "to be a champion of women." He says despite the allegations, "I know who I really am."

He says, "Even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it's all been worth it."

Franken is serving his ninth year as senator. He says he'll resign in the coming weeks.

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12:15 p.m.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says he hasn't decided on a replacement for Al Franken.

Franken says he'll step down in the coming weeks. He's facing allegations of sexual misconduct from several women.

The Democratic governor says he expects to make and announce his decision in the next couple of days. Whomever he names will serve until a special the election in November to complete the remainder of Franken's term through 2020.

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12:10 p.m.

Democratic senators, staff and family members were somber yet emotional as they watched Minnesota Sen. Al Franken say he would resign.

Franken's family members sat in the Senate gallery, some of them crying. Staff lined up in the back of the chamber, stone faced. And around 18 Democratic senators quietly listened to his speech on the floor. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was also there.

Democrats who sat and listened to Franken's speech included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first to call Wednesday for Franken to resign.

Franken was facing multiple sexual misconduct allegations. After his 11 minute speech, Democrats lined up to hug him.

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12:05 p.m.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says he'll resign in the coming weeks. He's repeatedly apologized as several women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior, and as his support from fellow Democrats evaporated.

The Minnesota lawmaker took to the Senate floor to say, "I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice." He says he'll addressing issues as an activist.

Franken says he can't go through a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and effectively represent his state at the same time.

In remarks that lasted 11 minutes, he said that, thanks to his family, "I'm going to be just fine."

He says some charges against him are untrue and that he remembers other differently than his accusers do. But he says women "deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously."

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10:55 a.m.

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is resigning amid multiple sexual misconduct allegations.

Once a rising star in the Democratic Party, Franken made the announcement in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor.

The two-term lawmaker has repeatedly apologized as several women stepped forward to accuse him of sexually inappropriate behavior, from groping to forcibly trying to kiss them.

But a fresh allegation on Wednesday unleashed a torrent of Democratic demands that Franken step aside. Female senators led the chorus.

Franken is an actor who appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and an author who narrowly won his Senate seat in 2008 after a prolonged vote count. He has been a fierce opponent of the Trump administration.

His political fall has been swift by congressional standards. The first allegation surfaced on Nov. 16.

Minnesota leaders have responded to Franken's resignation. The following is a statement from Governor Mark Dayton:

“I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time.

“In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

“Events have unfolded quickly; thus, I have not yet decided on my appointment to fill this upcoming vacancy. I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days.

“I will have no further comments on this subject until that time.”

The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith:

“Senator Franken has been a servant to the people of Minnesota, and a champion for working people during his time in the Senate. I thank him for his service. On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts.

“I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else.

“Now, it is on all of us to come together and make the progress necessary to live up to the values we believe in. Governor Dayton and I remain committed to ensuring that Minnesota is a place where everyone has the opportunity to realize their full potential.”

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9:29 a.m.

Sen. Al Franken will say whether he is resigning in a speech on the Senate floor at 11:45 a.m. ET, or 10:45 a.m. CT.

Franken is under intense pressure to step down as allegations of sexual misconduct have mounted, with at least eight women accusing him of acting inappropriately.

The Minnesota senator's support among fellow Democrats crumbled on Wednesday after a woman accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006. Hours later another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed "a handful of flesh" on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

A tweet on Franken's Twitter account Wednesday evening said Franken was talking with his family, and any report of a final decision his future was inaccurate.
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Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats, appears to be on the brink of resigning from the Senate.

Franken scheduled an announcement for Thursday, though his office tweeted Wednesday evening that he had not made "a final decision" on resigning.

But a majority of the Senate's Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit after a woman emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed "a handful of flesh" on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

That brought the number of women alleging misconduct by Franken to at least eight.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



 
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