In the wake of more than 30 Democratic senators calling for his resignation, Sen. Al Franken announced on the Senate floor this morning that he will step down. The Minnesota senator has been accused by eight women of touching them inappropriately over the years, dating from when he was still working as a comedian to the beginnings of his political career, after the initial accusations made by radio host Leeann Tweeden. While he reiterated today that “some of the allegations against me are simply not true, others I remember differently,” and said that he was confident the Senate Ethics Committee would agree that he has done nothing “to bring dishonor to this institution,” Franken acknowledged that it was incumbent on him to step aside for the good of his state, as well as out of respect for all the women who have come forward this year to share their stories of sexual abuse.
“The important part of the conversation we’ve been having is about how men abuse their power to hurt women. I am proud that during my time in the senate I have used my power to help women,” Franken said. “I know there has been a different picture painted of me over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.”
Franken also took the opportunity to call out both Donald Trump and Alabama candidate Roy Moore, whose own respective allegations of sexual abuse have contributed significantly to the Democrats’ cleaning of their own house of late, including the resignation of Rep. John Conyers earlier this week. “I am aware that there is some irony that I am leaving while a man who 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.”
Franken also declared that he “may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” pledging to continue to work as “a citizen and as an activist” for Minnesota and the causes he believes in.
“I did not grow up wanting to be a politician,” Franken said. “I came to this relatively late in life. I had to learn a lot on the fly. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always fun. I’m not just talking about today. This is a hard thing to do with your life. There will be days when you will wonder whether it’s worth it. Even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it.”