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Multiple Senate Democrats call for Franken resignation

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
The first Senator to call for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has been spearheading legislation in Congress to counteract Capitol Hill’s culture of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Note: See below for signficant updates to this story.

Hours after a story appeared Wednesday morning describing a seventh allegation of sexual misconduct by Sen. Al Franken, a group of at least two dozen Democrats in the Senate, led by several women, have called on Franken to resign his seat. Several members of the Minnesota delegation in the U.S. House, along with the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez, have also said Franken should step down.

Politico reported the story of a former Democratic congressional aide who said Franken attempted to forcibly kiss her in 2006 after a taping of Franken’s radio show. The former aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, alleged Franken said his behavior was his “right as an entertainer.”

Franken’s office denied this account — making it the first time, out of seven misconduct allegations against the senator, that he has categorically denied a woman’s allegation. On Wednesday afternoon, Franken’s office said he will be making an announcement on Thursday.

The tidal wave of calls for Franken’s resignation began in the 11 o’clock hour, Eastern, on Wednesday morning. The group includes senators up for re-election next year, senators buzzed about as candidates for president in 2020, and one in a high position in Senate leadership. The group calling on Franken to resign does not, of press time, include Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Klobuchar’s office has not responded to a request for comment.

The first Senator to call for Franken’s resignation was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has been spearheading legislation in Congress to counteract Capitol Hill’s culture of sexual harassment and misconduct.

In the following 15 minutes, Gillibrand was followed by a group of women Democrats: Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan later joined that group. Those three women all face tough re-election battles next year in states Donald Trump won in 2016.

A notable addition was Sen. Patty Murray, of Washington, who is one of the most influential Democrats in the Senate and the number three in Democratic Senate leadership. She is the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee on which Franken currently sits.

Several Democratic men quickly joined their female colleagues in calling for Franken to resign. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the number two Democrat in the Senate, said Franken should resign, as did Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Franken’s office did not respond to a request to comment on the calls for his resignation.

The Politico story today increased the number of harassment and misconduct allegations against Franken to seven. Before today, none of Franken’s Democratic Senate colleagues had publicly called for his resignation, while several U.S. House members, though none from Minnesota, did.

To this point, Franken has remained in the Senate and returned to work, promising to cooperate with an investigation into his conduct by the Senate Ethics Committee. The secretive committee had confirmed it had begun its investigation into Franken.


Since this story was first posted, there have been a number of developments.

Klobuchar, via Twitter, said she had spoken with Franken and she is “confident he will make the right decision.”

MinnPost spoke with 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz and 7th District DFL Rep. Collin Peterson off the House floor on Wednesday afternoon. Both said they expected Franken to resign, and both believed that is the correct move for him to make.

Peterson said the number of Senate Democrats calling for Franken’s resignation means “there’s no way [Franken] can be effective anymore.”

“We want to move on,” Walz said. “It’s a sad thing. It’s tragic. It’s tragic for the people involved. Sen. Franken has done great work for Minnesota.”

Peterson and Walz were the only Minnesota Democratic members of Congress to explicitly call for Franken’s resignation. Eighth District DFL Rep. Rick Nolan said there was a “compelling case” for him to step down, but wanted to wait for Franken to make the announcement.

Fourth District DFL Rep. Betty McCollum said in a statement that “The allegations against Sen. Al Franken make it impossible for him to be an effective Senator for Minnesota. When he makes his announcement tomorrow, I have every confidence that he will do the right thing for Minnesota and our country.”

Also on Wednesday afternoon, The Atlantic posted an account by writer Tina Dupuy accusing Franken of groping her while she posed for a photo with him in 2009.

More Democratic Senators have stepped forward to call for Franken’s resignation. Those include Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Sen. Angus King of Maine, and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Richard Callahan on 12/06/2017 - 11:49 am.

    This latest allegation is by another anonymous source and Franken categorically denies it, but apparently it’s enough of a tipping point that Gillibrand and the others call for his resignation. This feeding frenzy is getting way out of hand.

    • Submitted by Howard Salute on 12/06/2017 - 11:56 am.

      Feeding Frenzy?

      It appears the Senators calling for Frankens resignation are the ones fanning the flames of your so called, “feeding frenzy”. So, are you saying these Senators are out of hand?

    • Submitted by B. Dalager on 12/06/2017 - 02:57 pm.

      How many allegations do you need before you believe them? A baker’s dozen?

      • Submitted by Richard Callahan on 12/06/2017 - 03:12 pm.

        How does one defend themselves from anonomous accusations? Would you resign from your job if you were told someone whose will remain unknown accused you of sexual harassment?

    • Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 12/06/2017 - 04:13 pm.


      I’m sure that I will be severely chastised for this comment, but I can’t help but wonder about the political affiliation of the last three or four Franken accusers.

      Franken’s resignation from the US Senate would be the biggest win for Republicans since November 8, 2016. He is one of the strongest, most effective liberal voices in the US Congress. He has been one of the leading fund-raisers for the national Democratic Party across the entire Country. Losing him, even if Governor Dayton appoints another Democrat to fill his seat, will be a real loss for all Minnesotans.

      In the current feeding frenzy created by the “me too” movement, it is not necessary to provide anything to substantiate an allegation, so ….

  2. Submitted by Tom Clark on 12/06/2017 - 12:25 pm.

    Where there’s smoke

    There may be someone with a blanket fanning the flames, but this isn’t really about Franken’s actual guilt anymore, but about the Democratic Party being serious about the issue of sexual harassment. With Conyers’ resignation, it’s clear that Democrats do not want to be seen as equivocating on the issue, and not thereby give a pass to the likes of Roy Moore, and Trump as well. Franken is no longer a political asset but a growing liability to the Democratic Party, and he ought to have the sense to resign and not remain a thorn in the side.

    • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 12/06/2017 - 01:39 pm.

      Meanwhile the republicans happily give

      A pass to trump and roy with no qualms, and both are assets

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/06/2017 - 06:54 pm.

        There is nothing to give them “a pass” over. Nothing has been proved.

        • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/07/2017 - 09:24 am.

          Nothing proven?

          I guess if an admission isn’t proof, then you’re right.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/07/2017 - 03:13 pm.

          In that Case . . .

          Let’s start the investigations and see how they pan out. If Franken should have had an opportunity to disprove the allegations against him (not how it works, but whatever), let’s see if Ol’ Roy and President Trump can disprove what’s been said about them.

          Because Republicans are all about due process, right? That means air all the accusations and decide which are credible, doesn’t it? It certainly can’t mean “dismiss the claims against our boys, but call for a full airing of accusations that will serve largely to embarrass the other party.” No, we want a fair hearing!

          • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 12/09/2017 - 09:38 am.

            Yesterday, Roy Moore’s main accusor admitted she wrote “some” of the enscription in that infamous yearbook. She hasnt said which “some” she wrote, but Moore has stated it’s the signature part.

            The other accusor has been thoroughly refuted by 2 witnesses who worked at the diner, at the time the incident was said to have occurred. Both of the (female) employees have said the accusor did not work with them and the physical description of the diner is wrong. Neither of the witnesses have any connection to Moore or the Alabama GOP.

            Ol’ Roy has called for an investigation, personally and through his lawyers; he’s got nothing to hide. It is the accusors that have resisted investigation.

            Leftists tossed their ilk under the bus to satiate the mob. The GOP recognizes the right to due process. Those are facts.

  3. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 12/06/2017 - 01:06 pm.

    Just ridiculous.

    There are all kinds of behaviors that, ten years or twenty years ago, were considered just silly, but have now become career-enders. Al Franken took a dumb photograph (of a fully-clothed woman he’s not even touching) while making an “ooga booga” face. Not quite in the same ballpark as forcing sex on 15-year-olds.

    If you start judging yesterday’s behavior by today’s standards, you run the risk of hypocrisy at the very least. Look at magazine ads from 20 years ago – many of those same ads, printed today, would invoke a massive boycott of the product at least. But are we going through old magazines trying to find advertisements that we can complain about today?

    Sexual assault, or sex where there is a power differential, is of course wrong no matter who does it or when. SHORT OF THAT, comments that would be considered rude today should be taken in the context of their time. And if you still need to get your panties in a bunch and aren’t satisfied, watch a few episodes of the very accurate “Mad Men.”

  4. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 12/06/2017 - 01:41 pm.

    Sen. Franken’s position has become untenable.

    We’re past right or wrong of the now numerous reports of Franken’s behaviors. It’s time to admit that although distinctions can be drawn between the allegations against Franken and those made against others, they highlight some important common characteristics – entitlement, arrogance, disrespect.

    When all these members of his own party are turning against him, how can he be effective in office ??

    The office is more important than the man. It’s time to stop worrying about Al Franken’s future and start planning for a replacement appointee who can represent MN effectively.

  5. Submitted by John Evans on 12/06/2017 - 02:12 pm.

    Feeding frenzy on Franken

    Franken hasn’t harmed anyone. He hasn’t raped, coerced or intimidated anyone. He does not menace the halls and elevators of the Senate. I don’t find these accusations to be comparable to those raised against other politicians. Even if most of the charges were true, it wouldn’t make Fanken a sexual predator.

    Franken should acknowledge any actual transgressions, apologize specifically, and promise credibly not to do it any more. That’s how real change happens; people have to change.

    If you want to hunt sexual predators, Washington is a target-rich environment. The calls for Franken’s resignation show horrifyingly poor judgement. (The same does not apply to Conyers.) You can’t be so afraid of being called a hypocrite that you shoot your own best people. You should simply demand better behavior.

  6. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 12/06/2017 - 02:39 pm.

    What happened?

    What has happened to the” Clinton standard” when it comes to actual behavior and the trashing of women that the Democrats embraced for a generation?

    • Submitted by Brian Nelson on 12/06/2017 - 03:04 pm.

      It would seem…

      That behavior has been taken up by the Republican Party.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/07/2017 - 09:10 am.


      The Clinton standard is applicable only in a very specific context. There are certain preconditions:

      First, you have to have Republicans bitter over an electoral loss. Since bitterness is the default Republican mode these days, we have that one.

      Second, there has to be a feeling that the electoral loss was somehow illegitimate. Since all but a few fringe commentators have abandoned the idea that Franken “stole” his original election, we don’t have that one anymore.

      Third, and perhaps most importantly, you have top have years of fake scandals and lengthy investigations based on evidence your average acid head would find hard to believe. These scandals have to run the gamut from the inexplicable (remember Travelgate?) to the macabre (Vince Foster). These ludicrous outpourings of outrage will so diminish the credibility of anyone making accusation that the logical response is to reject them.

      That isn’t happening here, I’m afraid. You’ll have to find another reason to nurse your anti-Clinton grudges.

  7. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 12/06/2017 - 05:34 pm.

    Take a stand

    No way Senator Amy takes a stand on one side or the other. Note that other Minnesota DFL members of Congress are taking the same stand, playing both sides of the fence. While I disagree with almost every vote that Senator Franken has taken, doing the job of a U.S. senator has nothing to do with being a good or a boorish person. And as a minority member of the Senate, just how effective is he supposed to be anyway? Let him do his job and then, if he wants to seek re-election, let ALL the people decide.

  8. Submitted by Bill Willy on 12/06/2017 - 07:01 pm.

    The hot and insatiable vs. pinko homosexual liberals

    On the one hand, most filmmakers are “Commie pinko homosexual liberals.”

    On another hand, the person who said that placed this ad:

    “Hot, insatiable lady and her handsome body builder husband, experienced swingers, seek similar couples or exceptional muscular . . . single men.”

    The person who made those statements is known as one of the most effective and sought after disinformation (or “fake news”) artists in recent American political history . . . A seasoned top notch designer of devastating smear campaigns against his client’s political opponents.

    A political operative with a tattoo of Richard Nixon’s face on his back who, in the 1970s, was implicated in Watergate and, more recently, as one of the president’s closest advisors, the person who recommended that Paul Manafort take over the campaign manager’s job from Corey Lewandowski ( . . . and, since Manafort and two others were indicted in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, a political operative who has been calling and pushing for Mueller’s resignation (

    On August 21, 2016, Roger Stone tweeted:

    “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.”

    ” ‘On Oct. 7, the Access Hollywood tape comes out. One hour later, WikiLeaks starts dropping my emails.’ — John Podesta on Sunday, December 18th, 2016 in an interview on ‘Meet the Press.’ ”

    Politifact: “It’s True: WikiLeaks dumped Podesta emails hour after Trump video surfaced.”

    And then, at 1:00 a.m., Thursday, November 16th, hours before the first Franken/Tweeden story was published anywhere and the national spotlight was blazing down on Judge Roy Moore, Roger Stone was quoted as saying,

    “It’s Al Franken’s time in the barrel. Franken next in long list of Democrats to be accused of ‘grabby’ behavior.”

    In the comments under that day’s MinnPost article on this topic, R.B. Holbrook said:

    “What’s telling is that Republican agitprop man Roger Stone knew about the Franken story before it broke.”

    While the comments under that article were mostly thoughtful, sincere and interesting — and while the comments on all the other Franken articles since have been too — with the exception of John Hasselberg’s, Nov 16, “obvious setup” comment (on the same Minnpost article) and his link to the (excellent) article that references the “Stone connection,” R.B Holbrook’s comment is the only one (I’m aware of) so far to point directly to what MAY be the most important aspect of this whole story.

    As predicted by the handsome body builder, Al Franken’s “time in the barrel” started three weeks ago and since then more than a few non-Republican people in Minnesota (and Washington) have bought all the way into the idea that Franken should resign.

    Hard to say, of course, but it COULD be that even those most deeply committed to the DFL, as well as those who are just as committed to “impartial investigative journalism,” in our state have missed the possibility (or not believed it could be a possibility) that they MAY have swallowed (and spread) a classic Roger Stone Blue Plate Special, hook, line and sinker.

  9. Submitted by Jim Lit on 12/06/2017 - 07:57 pm.

    Political Maneuvering

    Franken’s replacement by Dayton needs to be a democrat who the state voters will accept. This eliminates any far left liberal. Also someone who will not be a reelection problem for Klobuchar in 2018 & for the Governor’s replacement.

    The GOP is going to come loaded for bear in 2018. We will see if the MN DFL is ready to wage
    what may be a very dirty political war.

  10. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 12/07/2017 - 03:29 pm.

    The national Democratic Party decided yesterday that Al Franken needed to be sacrificed for the greater good and goals of the party; there’s no other way to explain the massive, sudden “dumping” of the Senator. They made it absolutely impossible for Franken to continue in office, based on accusations alone.

    Those accusations are minor, in the context of the sweeping movement of reports of attempted rapes, real rapes, real sexual assaults that other prominent politicians, media and film/television figures, and business figures, have been accused of.

    And something doesn’t ring true to me, in several of these women’s accounts (I refuse to believe an anonymous accusation when there is not, nor has there been, any job or professional power relation involved between the women and Franken). I look at the accusation of his having–horrors!–squeezed one woman’s WAIST many years ago during a public photo op, and I’m shocked that a woman took offense, and still insisted on anonymity. Maybe she’s just afraid of internet trolls. Or maybe she’s just an opportunist, or a plant in the piling on.

    It’s just not–repeat, NOT–the same thing. We’ve lost all nuance.

    The tragedy is, we’ve thereby lost a potentially great U.S. Senator, a man who was quietly and visibly growing into a liberal powerhouse in Washington. Big target. He will stay in the Senate to provide a solid Democratic vote there until Minnesota’s governor gets his act together (with the party, of course) to appoint a woman to replace Franken for a year. To make the absence of that Democratic vote in the Senate as brief as possible.

    I guess one would have to be apolitical naif not to understand that.

  11. Submitted by jim hughes on 12/10/2017 - 05:32 pm.


    If these Democratic “leaders” thought they’d be in a stronger position by throwing Al Franken over the side, they’ve made a really bad calculation. The Democrats desperately needs some new people at the top, who understand that politics is about winning the center. People like Gillibrand are just going to sink the ship.

  12. Submitted by jim hughes on 12/11/2017 - 04:15 pm.


    “Multiple Senate Democrats” are frustrated that they can’t bring down Trump, or stop anything the Republicans are doing. They’re looking for something, anything, they can call a “win” and talk up to the folks back home. So they’ve brought down one of their own, based on some extremely vague and fake-y sounding allegations, without even bothering with a fair hearing.

    It’s an embarrassment to the party and an exercise in absolute futility.

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