As Franken’s sup­port col­lapses, Democrats ex­pect res­ig­na­tion

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - LIVING - By An­drew Tay­lor

WASH­ING­TON » His once-promis­ing po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in sham­bles, Min­nesota Sen. Al Franken ap­peared on the verge of re­sign­ing af­ter fel­low Democrats led by fe­male sen­a­tors aban­doned him Wed­nes­day over the mount­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct that are roil­ing Capi­tol Hill.

A ma­jor­ity of the Se­nate’s Democrats called on the two-term law­maker to get out af­ter an­other woman emerged Wed­nes­day say­ing he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. That brought to at least seven the num­ber of women ac­cus­ing him of sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety.

Franken, the for­mer co­me­dian who made his name on “Satur­day Night Live,” sched­uled an an­nounce­ment for Thurs­day. No topic was spec­i­fied, but Demo­cratic sen­a­tors said they ex­pected their lib­eral col­league to re­sign.

“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is ac­cept­able, and we, as elected lead­ers, should ab­so­lutely be held to a higher stan­dard.”

Gil­li­brand was the first to call for Franken’s res­ig­na­tion on Wed­nes­day, but a tor­rent of Democrats quickly fol­lowed.

“I’m shocked and ap­palled by Sen. Franken’s be­hav­ior,” said Sen. Patty Mur­ray of Wash­ing­ton state. “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.”

Though the writ­ing ap­peared to be on the wall, Franken’s de­par­ture was not cer­tain. A tweet posted Wed­nes­day evening on Franken’s Twit­ter ac­count said: “Sen­a­tor Franken is talk­ing with his fam­ily at this time and plans to make an an­nounce­ment in D.C. to­mor­row. Any re­ports of a fi­nal de­ci­sion are in­ac­cu­rate.”

Late in the day, Demo­cratic Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

“I con­sider Sen­a­tor Franken a dear friend and greatly re­spect his ac­com­plish­ments, but he has a higher obli­ga­tion to his con­stituents and the Se­nate, and he should step down im­me­di­ately,” Schumer said.

Schumer called Franken im­me­di­ately af­ter the lat­est al­le­ga­tion — and be­fore the tor­rent of de­mands for Franken’s res­ig­na­tion from Democrats — and told him he needed to re­sign, said a Demo­crat fa­mil­iar with the events. Schumer met later in his apart­ment with Franken and Franken’s wife, Franni, and re­peated that mes­sage and did the same in ad­di­tional talks with the sen­a­tor through­out the day, said the Demo­crat, who spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions

The res­ig­na­tion de­mands came in rapid suc­ces­sion even though Franken on Wed­nes­day ve­he­mently de­nied the new ac­cu­sa­tion that came from a for­mer Demo­cratic con­gres­sional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her af­ter a tap­ing of his ra­dio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not iden­ti­fied, told Politico that Franken pur­sued her af­ter her boss had left and she was col­lect­ing her be­long­ings. She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an en­ter­tainer.”

Franken, in a state­ment, said the idea he would claim such con­duct as a right was “pre­pos­ter­ous.”

But it was soon clear that his po­si­tion had be­come un­ten­able, and his of­fice later is­sued a state­ment say­ing, “Sen­a­tor Franken will be mak­ing an an­nounce­ment to­mor­row. More de­tails to come.”

Fel­low Demo­cratic Min­nesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twit­ter, “I am con­fi­dent he will make the right de­ci­sion.”

ALEX BRAN­DON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Min­nesota Sen. Al Franken ap­peared on the verge of re­sign­ing af­ter fel­low Democrats led by fe­male sen­a­tors aban­doned him Wed­nes­day over the mount­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct that are roil­ing Capi­tol Hill.

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