As calls to resign from Al Franken’s colleagues in Congress grow with each new accusation of sexual assault and sexual harassment, the U.S. senator from Minnesota held a press conference to address the claims on Thursday.
For Franken’s Thursday announcement, the Minnesota senator stated that while he had tried to respect the growing and necessary belief that all sexual assault victims should be heard, his refusal to challenge the women’s claims should not be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. However, he announced that “in the coming weeks,” he will be resigning as Minnesota’s senator.
‘It has become clear that I can’t both pursue the ethics committee’s process and remain an effective senator for [Minnesota].’
While Franken is giving up his seat, he wanted Americans to know that he will not be giving up his voice or his activism for women.
Thursday marks the second round of public press conferences Franken has held to address the allegations. During the first, he made no excuses and never attempted to malign his accusers. Instead he apologized, vowed to reflect on his actions, and stated that he knew how difficult it would be to regain the trust of his constituents in Minnesota.
Five accusers have now come forward to tell stories of groping and forced intimacy by Franken both before his political career began and after. While the first story seemed rather questionable with the knowledge that Trump’s former adviser and long-time proponent of the kind of political “dirty trickster” tactics, Roger Stone, announcing hours ahead of time that the accusations were about to come, the newest allegations make it more and more difficult to deny that Franken shows a pattern of deplorable behavior toward women.
Speculation about what would be announced during Franken’s second press conference ran rampant on social media and in the news, no one is sure at this point what might actually come. Most believed that he would acknowledge his colleagues growing concerns and simply resign, but a response from Franken’s Twitter account to a Minnesota Public Radio report called that assumption into question on Wednesday night.
For many Democrats, the accusations come at a very disappointing time as many speculated that he may be in the running for a 2020 presidential bid. His sharp and pointed questioning of Trump’s deplorable cabinet nominees and those appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Trump/Russia probe made him a favorite of left-wing progressives, and his policies aligned most closely with a much-divided party whose political ideologies were so split between the more establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the more radically progressive one, Bernie Sanders, in the 2016 primaries.
A recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed that half of all Americans polled believe that Franken should resign at this point, but the party divide made the percentages even more an interesting look at politics and sexual assault and how they influence thinking on this subject.
‘Fully 50 percent of voters think Franken, who has served in the Senate since 2009, should resign, and 22 percent think he should not resign.
‘The Franken results, though, underscore a partisan divide in how voters view allegations of sexual misconduct against political figures. Democratic voters are more likely to find allegations against Democrats credible and endorse significant punishments than Republican voters are when it comes to allegations against GOP lawmakers and candidates.’
For Franken’s press conference, see video below:
Featured image via Getty/Mark Wilson