Franken to quit Senate amid sexual misconduct allegations


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Media captionFranken attacked Donald Trump and Roy Moore in his resignation speech

Democratic Senator and ex-comedian Al Franken has said he plans to quit “in the coming weeks” after string of sexual harassment allegations.

“I am proud that during my time in the Senate that I have used my power to be a champion of women,” the Minnesota senator said from the US Senate floor.

The announcement came after dozens of Democrats called on him to resign.

He is the most prominent lawmaker to resign amid a wave of sexual misconduct claims against high-profile figures.

“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States senate,” he told his colleagues on Thursday.

“I may be resigning my seat but I am not giving up my voice.”

The former Saturday Night Live comedian and two-term senator has apologised to several women who have accused him of groping and sexual harassment, but he faced mounting pressure to resign after a new allegation emerged on Wednesday.

Democrats desert senator in grope claims

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Mr Franken arrived at the Capitol holding hands with his wife

Mr Franken said some of the allegations against him “are simply are not true”, but added that women “deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously”.

He also referenced the sexual misconduct allegations that have been levelled against US President Donald Trump and Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.”

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Media captionFranken accuser: I was disgusted

Mr Franken is not the only US politician to have found himself accused of sexual harassment in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, announced that he would resign amid claims of sexual harassment made by his congressional aides.

US lawmaker to retire amid harassment claims

Seven women have come forward to accuse Mr Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court judge, of sexual misconduct decades ago, including one woman who claims he molested her when she was 14 years old while he was in his 30’s and working as an Alabama prosecutor.

Another woman alleges the judge had tried to rape her after he offered her a ride home from her job as a waitress.

Several Democratic female senators – including some who called for Mr Franken’s resignation a day earlier – hugged the lawmaker after his speech.

Fellow Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar thanked Mr Franken on Facebook, calling him a “friend to me and many in our state”.

“In every workplace in America, including the US Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct,” she wrote.

“Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures – and the way we treat each other as human beings – must change.”

The decision to replace Mr Franken will fall to Democratic Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who said in a statement he has not yet made a decision.

“I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time,” he said.



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