Durbin, Duckworth Among Senate Dems Calling for Franken to Resign

Several fellow Democrats are calling for the senator to step down as he already faces a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped or sought to forcibly kiss them

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are among a number of Senate Democrats calling on Al Franken to step down as he denies a new sexual misconduct accusation. 

"Senator Franken's behavior was wrong," Durbin tweeted Wednesday. "He has admitted to what he did. He should resign from the Senate." 

Duckworth echoed that Franken "must step aside" and said she is "deeply disappointed" by his behavior. 

"To all those across America who have come forward to share their stories over the past few months: thank you. Your courage and strength in driving this long-overdue national conversation is awe-inspiring," Duckworth's statement read. "As national leaders, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard—and we must lead by example to ensure every person is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. This isn’t about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about our society. It’s about who we are as a people and the kind of country we want our daughters—and our sons—to grow up in.”

The latest allegation against Franken came from a former Democratic congressional aide whom he allegedly tried to forcibly kiss after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The Minnesota Democrat said in a statement that the accusation, reported by Politico, was "categorically not true." Hours later, a slew of fellow Senate Democrats and the head of the Democratic National Committee called on Franken to step aside, with one saying his behavior is "unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated."

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."

The senator is facing a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped or sought to forcibly kiss them.

"This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous," Franken said. "I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation."

DNC Chairman Tom Perez joined more than 10 Democratic senators who called on Franken to step aside or resign on Wednesday.

"While it's true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated by those of us who are privileged to work in public service," said Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in a statement.

She said that while she is personally fond of Franken and has worked with him, the country's leaders should be held to the highest standards.

"We should not have to be explaining the gradations between sexual assault, harassment and unwelcome groping," Gillibrand said in the statement.

Hawaii's Mazie Hirono cited the day's announcement that women who spoke out against sexual misconduct in the workplace were named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Maggie Hassan, of New Hampshire, said, "It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign."

And Perez said that "Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party."

Franken didn't immediately respond to his colleagues' calls for him to step aside, but an aide said he would be making an announcement Thursday.

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 disputed some of the allegations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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