More than a dozen Democratic senators on Wednesday called on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign in the wake of multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first of Franken’s fellow Senate Democrats to take that step and was quickly followed by Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, and Maria Cantwell of Washington.
Franken plans to make an unspecified announcement on Thursday, according to his office. The state director for his Minnesota colleague, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, said in a statement that Klobuchar spoke with Franken directly early Wednesday and offered no further comment beyond pointing to Franken’s planned announcement.
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was the first male Democratic senator to say his colleague should step aside, followed by Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“Senator Franken’s behavior was wrong,” Durbin tweeted. “He has admitted to what he did. He should resign from the Senate.”
Other male Democratic senators, however, stopped short of urging Franken to step down.
“I believe in the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution that people are innocent until proven otherwise,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), whose federal corruption case ended in a mistrial last month. “The Senate ethics committee, I understand is having its own review — we should wait for the review and see what they come up with.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he wanted to speak with Franken before commenting, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) said only that “I haven’t said anything on” Franken’s future.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, 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,” Gillibrand said in a Facebook post.
The calls came after POLITICO reported that a former Democratic congressional aide said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator. Franken, who had previously been accused by six other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, denied the accusation.
Hirono said she “struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women.”
McCaskill tweeted simply: “Al Franken should resign.”
Murray said in a statement that she was “shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior. 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.”
And Harris tweeted, “Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has yet to comment publicly Wednesday on Franken.