A growing number of Democratic senators have called for Minnesota Senator Franken’s resignation amid sexual misconduct claims.
To date, sixteen Democratic senators — ten female and six male — have called on Al Franken to resign from his post as allegations of sexual harassment against him continue to mount, according to a report by CNN.
Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, has also called on Al Franken to resign. “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,” Perez said in a Twitter post.
Sen. Al Franken should step down. 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.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) December 6, 2017
In contrast, just over a day prior to Perez’s post, the Republican National Committee renewed its support for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct, including the molestation of underage girls when he was a prosecutor in his 30s.
Many Republicans have distanced themselves from the Republican candidate in light of the allegations, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has called on the Moore to drop out of the race. President Trump, however, decided to publically endorse Moore earlier this week, claiming that “he needs a fighter to help him in the US Senate.”
At least six women have accused Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior. Leeann Tweeden, a morning news anchor on KABC radio in Los Angeles, was the first. During CNN’s “The Lead” on Thursday, Tweeden described how Franken forcibly groped and kissed her during a USO tour in 2006, before Franken became a senator.
“[He] puts his hand on the back of my neck and comes in so fast. There was no finesse to it at all — let’s put it that way. And he just mashes his mouth to my lips. It was wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth and I push his chest away with my hands.”
When asked if she wanted Al Franken to be punished, Tweeden stated, “I think I just wanted him to apologize to me for that and say that he was sorry, and I think that second statement that he came out with – the acknowledgment of saying that it was wrong… I think everybody really needs to take a good hard look [at that].”
Continuing, Tweeden said, “I think he really came from a place of honesty there, and I think that’s really where change is going to be driven from – not from the victims coming out and talking about it; I think it’s going to come from the people who maybe do the abusing that don’t even realize they’re doing the abusing because it’s so a part of the culture.”
After Tweeden’s interview on CNN, several other women came forward to say they had been inappropriately touched by Franken as well. Senator Franken has repeatedly apologized in midst of the accusations and stated that his behavior had “crossed a line.”
Al Franken is now under investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, which he says he is willing to fully cooperate with. Senator Franken will make an announcement Thursday, according to his office, which is expected to include a response to the calls for his resignation.
You can read the full statement of Sen.Kristen Gillibrand below
Sen.Kristen Gillibrand: Senator Al Franken Should Step Aside
I have been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable. I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families.
But this moment of reckoning about our friends and colleagues who have been accused of sexual misconduct is necessary, and it is painful. We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person.
The pervasiveness of sexual harassment and the experience women face every day across America within the existing power structure of society has finally come out of the shadows. It is a moment that we as a country cannot afford to ignore.
While a lot of the media focus has been on high-profile cases with powerful leaders in politics, Hollywood, and the media business, we must recognize that this is happening every day to women everywhere, up and down the economic ladder. For many women, including hourly workers in offices, stores, hotels, restaurants, bars, or on farms, with bosses who aren’t famous enough to be held accountable publicly, calling out their abusers is still not an option. To achieve lasting change, we will need to fight this everywhere on behalf of everyone by insisting on accountability and working to bring more women into leadership in each industry to fundamentally shift the culture.
In politics, of course, the problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault is not limited to any one party. There have been Democrats and Republicans accused of misconduct, and I have no doubt that there will be more because Congress is not immune to this scourge. The question is what are we willing to do about it when courageous women and men come forward.
We have to rise to the occasion, and not shrink away from it, even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard. That is what this larger moment is about. So, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator Franken’s behavior. Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. 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.
As the mother of two young boys, we owe it to our sons and daughters to not equivocate but to offer clarity. We should not have to be explaining the gradations between sexual assault, harassment, and unwelcome groping. And what message do we send to our sons and daughters when we accept gradations of crossing the line? None of it is ok and none of it should be tolerated.
We should demand the highest standards, not the lowest, from our leaders, and we should fundamentally value and respect women. Every workplace in America, including Congress, needs to have a strong process and accountability for sexual harassment claims, and I am working with others to address the broken and opaque system in Congress.
While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.
In the wake of the election of President Trump, in just the last few months, our society is changing, and I encourage women and men to keep speaking up to continue this progress. At this moment, we need to speak hard truths or lose our chance to make lasting change.