WASHINGTON (JTA) — (JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Chuck Schumer said their colleague Al Franken’s announcement scheduled for Thursday should include his resignation following accusations of sexual harassment from more than a half dozen women.
“Sen. Franken has said that he will be making an announcement about his political future tomorrow. The right thing is for him to resign,” Sanders, I-Vt., who ran for president as a Democrat in the 2016 elections, said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“We are now at a crossroads in American culture. And it is an important one. The way we treat women in our country has been abysmal in almost every way. We are finally addressing the issue of sexual harassment, and we need to get it right.”
Schumer, D-N.Y., the minority leader, told the New York Times in a statement that “I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.”
Franken on Twitter said a Minnesota Public Radio report that was set to resign on Wednesday was premature. He said he was still consulting with his family.
At least 22 Democratic senators, many of them women, have called on Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, to resign as of Wednesday afternoon.
Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Dianne Feinstein of California also said Wednesday on Twitter that resignation was the “right thing” for Franken. Both are Jewish, as are Schumer, Franken and Sanders.
Following the calls for his resignation after another woman came forward on Wednesday to accuse him of sexual harassment, Franken’s office said he would make an “announcement” on Thursday. The office did not say what the nature of the announcement would be.
Seven women have come forward to accuse Franken of touching them inappropriately during photo opportunities and campaign events. The accusations date from between 2003 and 2010.
The latest accusation, reported Wednesday morning on Politico, comes from an unnamed former Democratic congressional aide who said Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.
Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer, has joined leaders of both parties in the Senate in asking for an ethics investigation against him. The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday opened a preliminary investigation into the accusations against Franken.