In what appears to be a coordinated move, six female senators have simultaneously posted messages to social media to denounce alleged groping incidents by U.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, and to call on the embattled Democrat to resign. Senators Patty Murray of Washington, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York all issued statements condemning their fellow Democrat, declaring “that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person.”
“I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator Franken’s behavior. Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against [Republican Alabama Senate candidate] Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated by those of us who are privileged to work in public service,” Gillibrand wrote on Facebook.
“As the mother of two young boys we owe it to our sons and daughters to not equivocate, but to offer clarity,” she added. “We should not have to be explaining the gradations between sexual assault, harassment and unwelcome groping. And what message do we send to our sons and daughters when we accept gradations of crossing the line? None of it is ok and none of it should be tolerated. We should demand the highest standards, not the lowest, from our leaders, and we should fundamentally value and respect women.”
Murray, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said in a statement that it was time for Franken “to step aside.”
“I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior,” she said. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time.” In addition to the senators, Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday called for Franken to resign in a message posted on Twitter.
The calls for Franken’s resignation come amid yet another allegation made against the embattled senator. According to a report by Politico, a former Democratic congressional aide has accused Franken of forcibly trying to kiss her. The incident took place in 2006, she told Politico, before Franken had made a foray into politics. He was hosting a radio show at the time. The woman, who is the sixth to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct, declined to reveal her name.
The increased pressure on Franken also comes a day after John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House and a civil rights icon, announced that he would retire in the wake of allegations that he sexually harassed his female staffers. In recent days, President Donald Trump and the RNC have also endorsed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by nine women — including five women who said he molested them when he was in his thirties and they were teenagers. Franken, who has previously said that he would go through an ethics investigation but not resign, has not officially commented on the new calls for his resignation, but said in a message on Twitter that he would “be making an announcement tomorrow.”
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