WASHINGTON — Maine’s U.S. senators and 23 Democratic senators called on Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, to resign on Wednesday amid a fresh allegation in what a fellow senator called a “clear pattern” of sexual misconduct.
Franken’s support in the Senate crumbled after another woman emerged saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, bringing to seven the number of women accusing him of sexual impropriety. More than a half dozen female Democratic senators and some men called on him to resign.
Franken scheduled an announcement for Thursday, and while his office didn’t specify the topic, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said he expected Franken to resign at that time.
“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”
“Obviously, there were new allegations today, and enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, told reporters. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told CNN that “it would be best for the Senate” if Franken “followed the advice of his Democratic colleagues,” and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, urged Franken to “listen to the Senate’s female leaders.”
“For me, I think it’s time for my friend to resign,” King said in a statement.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, didn’t immediately comment.
The demands came in rapid succession after Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied a new sexual misconduct accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.
The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said she ducked to avoid his lips, and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”
Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right as an entertainer was “preposterous.”
BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.
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