WASHINGTON -- A Democratic source says that Sen. Al Franken is planning to resign from the U.S. Senate in light of mounting sexual harassment allegations, but the Minnesota Democrat's office says he has not yet made up his mind despite a mounting drumbeat for him to step down.
A Democratic official with firsthand knowledge of Franken's decision told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that Franken planned to step down on Thursday. But a Franken staffer pushed back against that report late Wednesday: "Not accurate. He's still discussing with his family," the staffer wrote in a text message to a reporter.
The conflicting reports around Franken's status did not obscure the undeniable fact that his political career was hanging by a thread Wednesday, after a large group of his fellow Democrats in the U.S. Senate called for him to resign. In recent weeks, more than half a dozen women have accused Franken of groping or harassing them.
On Wednesday, after yet another account surfaced, dozens of Senate Democrats broke their weeks-long silence and called for Franken to do the "right thing" and resign. By Wednesday afternoon, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his name to that list.
The calls for resignation poured forth on Wednesday, not long after news broke of a seventh accuser -- a former Democratic congressional staffer who said Franken tried to force a kiss on her in 2006. Within a few hours, six female senators, in rapid succession, took to Twitter Wednesday morning to call for his resignation.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, one of the earliest out of the gate Wednesday, wrote on Facebook. "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."
By late afternoon, more than two dozen Senate Democrats and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee all called on Franken to step down from the Senate seat he has held since 2009. Prominent Minnesota DFLers, who with a few exceptions had refrained from demanding Franken's resignation, started to join in with calls for his resignation or, less specifically, predictions that he would "do the right thing."
Franken's fellow Democrat in the Senate, Amy Klobuchar, stopped short of adding her voice to the resignation chorus, but said in a tweet: "This morning I spoke with Senator Franken and ... I am confident he will make the right decision."
Democrats abandoned Franken just as President Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans have embraced the Alabama U.S. Senate candidacy of Roy Moore despite allegations by multiple women that he sexually abused them.
It will fall to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to appoint a temporary replacement once Franken officially resigns. The seat would then be on the ballot in next November's election -- joining an open governor's race and Klobuchar's re-election bid, which would make for the highest-stakes Minnesota election in a generation.
Dayton is expected to quickly name a replacement.
(c)2017 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.