(JTA) — Sen. Al Franken announced he will resign from Congress in the wake of calls for him to step down following accusations of sexual misconduct by several women.
Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, said late Thursday morning in a speech on the Senate floor that he would resign “in the coming weeks.”
In announcing his decision, Franken said that “Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the issues they face every day.”
“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution,” he added.
Franken, the Minnesota Star Tribune said in its report, had been a vocal champion of women’s rights and a popular, in-demand spokesman for progressive causes.
Hours before his announcement, an eighth woman accused Franken of sexual impropriety, writing in The Atlantic that the senator groped her while they took a photo together during a 2009 inauguration celebration.
Franken’s status seemed increasingly untenable after a report emerged Wednesday of a seventh accuser. Half of the Democratic caucus called on him to step down, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the minority leader. Franken and Schumer are both Jewish.
Also calling on Franken to go were Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., widely seen as a presidential contender in 2020, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the first Jewish candidate to win major-party nominating contests in last year’s Democratic primaries.
An unnamed former Democratic congressional aide told Politico in a story published Wednesday that 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 who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, apologized earlier this month to Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio host, who said he forcibly kissed and groped her during a 2006 tour. Tweeden released a photo showing Franken posing with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.
Three other women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate campaign events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.