Senator Al Franken has not yet decided whether he will resign, his office said Wednesday night in a tweet that disputes a report by Minnesota Public Radio. Franken has been accused of sexual misconduct by eight women, including two who came forward on Wednesday.
MPR News, citing an unnamed Democratic official, reported that Franken would be announcing his resignation during a Thursday announcement. The official told MPR News that he or she had spoken to Franken and separately to Frnaken’s staff. Franken was at his Washington home to discuss plans with his family, according to MPR.
Franken’s official Twitter account responded to MPR and the reporter who published the story, Brian Bakst, writing, “Not accurate, @mpr @Stowydad. No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family. Please update your story.”
In a second tweet, Franken’s office said, “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”
Franken faced a wave of calls for him to step down on Wednesday, with 32 Democratic senators, including 13 women and 19 men, telling him to resign, according to CNN.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken to resign on Wednesday. “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,” she wrote on Facebook.
Several other women senators joined Gillibrand with statements Wednesday, including Claire McCaskill, Maggie Hassan, Patty Murray, Tammy Baldwin, Debbie Stabenow, Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, Maria Cantwell and Dianne Feinstein.
In a statement from her office, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s other senator, said Wednesday, “Senator Klobuchar personally spoke with Senator Franken this morning. As has been reported, he will be making an announcement tomorrow morning.”
Senator Bob Casey was the first male colleague of Franken’s to call for him to step aside Wednesday. He has since been joined by several others, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez also called for Franken to resign.
If Franken does resign, his seat will be filled by Minnesota’s Democratic Governor Mark Dayton. The interim senator would serve until 2018, when voters would pick someone to finish the final two years of Franken’s term.
The calls for Franken’s resignation came on the same day that two more women came forward with accusations against him.
A former Democratic Congressional aide, whose name was withheld to protect her identity, told Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a senator. The woman said she had accompanied her boss to Franken’s studio. After her boss left the room following the taping, she was gathering her belongings when she said she came face to face with Franken.
“He was between me and the door, and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick, and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right, and I ducked,” the woman told Politico. “I was really startled by it, and I just sort of booked it towards the door, and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.'”
Franken, who has called for an ethics investigation into the accusations to be conducted, denied the former aide’s accusation, telling Politico, “This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”
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