UPDATED with more details: “Today I am announcing that, in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate,” Al Franken said from the floor of the Senate Thursday morning – one day after more than 30 Dem colleagues suddenly demanded he step down over allegations he had harassed women with unwanted touching and kissing.
“I, of all people, am aware there is some irony I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.
“A couple months ago, I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country. We were finally beginning to listen to women about the way in which men’s actions affect them…I was excited for that conversation and hopeful it would result in real change that made life better for women across the country and in every part of our society. Then the conversation turned to me.”
Saying he had been “shocked” and “upset” by the allegations, Franken explained he “also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation. Because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously.” And, while continuing to insist that had been the right thing to do (in marked contrast to the stout denial strategy of others) Franken acknowledged “I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing thing I haven’t done.”
“Some of the allegations against me simply are not true. Others I remember very differently,” he said.
Franken scolded his colleagues for denying him a full Senate Ethics Committee hearing, calling it the proper venue to determine his fate in politics, and reminding those in the hall who, on Wednesday, demanded his immediate ouster, that he had volunteered to cooperate fully and accept the outcome of that investigation.
“An important part o the conversation we been having last few months is about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women. I am proud that during time in the senate I have used m power to be a champion of women, and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. A very different picture of me has been painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I am.”
Franken acknowledged he will always regret “having to walk away from this job” but said he has faith in his staff, those who elected him, and “the progressive advocacy I have the privilege to be part of.”
As to the senate itself, Franken added, pointedly, “and I have faith – or at least hope – that member of this senate will find the political courage necessary to keep asking the tough questions, hold this administration accountable, and stand up for the truth.”
As he wrapped his speech, “Al Franken” began top-trending worldwide.