Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said he expects Sen. Al Franken to resign on Thursday as at least 23 of the Minnesota Democrat’s colleagues called for him to step down. The calls came as another woman, a former Democratic congressional aide, accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006.
“I expect that Senator Franken will announce his resignation tomorrow,” Wyden said in a tweet. “It is the right thing to do given this series of serious allegations.”
The calls for Franken to resign were sparked by a group of Senate Democratic women who came out nearly simultaneously on Wednesday urging him to leave the Senate. Franken, who has been accused of groping and forcibly kissing a number of women, responded by saying that he would make an announcement Thursday.
“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,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote in a lengthy Facebook post earlier on Wednesday.
Throughout the afternoon, calls for his resignation only continued to grow. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement on Wednesday that while the Senate Ethics Committee is currently investigating Franken, “it now appears Senator Franken has lost the support of his colleagues, and most importantly, his constituents.” McConnell continued, “I do not believe he can effectively serve the people of Minnesota in the U.S. Senate any longer.”
The floodgates were opened by the a group of Democratic women in the Senate including Gillibrand, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kamala Harris of California, Patty Murray of Washington, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who led the calls for Franken to resign.
According to a Democratic aide, women in the Senate have been in contact for a while about what Sen. Franken’s path forward should be. But on Wednesday, they decided that enough was enough. It was time to call on him to step aside.
“I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend,” Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said of Franken in a statement issued late Wednesday morning. “But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”
On Twitter, Sen. Claire McCaskill wrote simply: “Al Franken should resign.”