Embattled Senator Al Franken will make a speech from the U.S. Senate floor at 11:45 a.m., his office said Thursday morning on Twitter. The Minnesota Democrat is expected to make an announcement about his political future amid growing calls from his Democratic colleagues for him to step down over sexual misconduct accusations.
Eight women have come forward with allegations against Franken in the past month, including two women who shared their stories on Wednesday. More than 30 Democratic senators, led by women, spoke out on Wednesday to call for Franken’s resignation. Minnesota Public Radio News reported last night that Franken would be stepping down, citing an unnamed party official who had spoken to both Franken and his staff. But Franken, through his office, disputed that report, saying he was still meeting with his family to make a final decision about his plans.
You can watch Al Franken’s announcement from the Senate floor below, when it begins at 11:45 a.m.:
“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’s office said in a Wednesday night tweet.
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.”
Later Wednesday, Tina Dupuythe former communications director for Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, wrote in The Atlantic that she was groped by Franken in 2009.
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