A majority of Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) after determining that they could no longer tolerate his presence in their midst as a growing number of women accused him of sexual harassment.
They turned on one of their party’s most popular figures with stunning swiftness, led by the Senate’s Democratic women, who were joined in short order by more than half of the Democratic caucus.
“Enough is enough,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is okay, none of it is acceptable. We as elected leaders should absolutely be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard, and we should fundamentally be valuing women. That is where this debate has to go.”
Franken’s office said he would make an announcement about his future on Thursday. Minnesota Public Radio reported Wednesday afternoon that Franken planned to resign, but Franken’s office quickly denied it on Twitter. “Not accurate,” the tweet stated. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family.”
If he steps down soon, a replacement would be appointed by Minnesota’s Democratic governor to serve until the 2018 election.
The drive to purge Franken, coming a day after Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned under pressure in the House, was a dramatic indication of the political toxicity that has grown around the issue of sexual harassment in recent months.
It also stood as a stark — and deliberate — contrast with how the Republicans are handling a parallel situation in Alabama, where Roy Moore, their candidate for U.S. Senate in next week’s special election, is accused by women of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s.
Although most of the alleged actions took place before he was a senator, Franken was becoming a growing liability to his party, and Republicans had seized upon the allegations against him.
At Moore’s Tuesday night rally, conservative pundit Gina Loudon declared that Republicans did not need lectures on morality from Democrats who had struggled with their own sex scandals, and cited both Conyers and Franken.
President Trump, himself the target of multiple allegations of…