Franken quits over al­le­ga­tions

Com­bat­ive, un­apolo­getic se­na­tor points to Repub­li­can Party’s tol­er­ance of Trump and Moore

Waterloo Region Record - - WORLD - Alan Fram

WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken, a ris­ing po­lit­i­cal star only weeks ago, re­luc­tantly an­nounced Thurs­day he’s re­sign­ing from Congress, suc­cumb­ing to a tor­rent of sex­ual harassment al­le­ga­tions and evap­o­rat­ing sup­port from fel­low Democrats. But he fired a de­fi­ant part­ing shot at Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and other Repub­li­cans he said have sur­vived much worse ac­cu­sa­tions.

“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,” Franken said.

The 66-year-old Min­nesotan, a former “Satur­day Night Live” co­me­dian who made a suc­cess­ful leap to lib­eral U.S. se­na­tor, an­nounced his de­ci­sion in a sub­dued Se­nate cham­ber three weeks af­ter the first ac­cu­sa­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct emerged but just a day af­ter most of his Demo­cratic col- leagues pro­claimed he had to go. His re­marks un­der­scored the bit­ter­ness many in the party feel toward a GOP that they say has made a po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tion to tol­er­ate Trump and Alabama GOP Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore, who’ve both been ac­cused of sex­ual as­saults that they’ve de­nied.

In largely un­apolo­getic re­marks that lasted 11 min­utes, Franken said “all women de­serve to be heard” but as­serted that some ac­cu­sa­tions against him were un­true. He called him­self “a cham­pion of women” dur­ing his Se­nate ca­reer who fought to im­prove peo­ple’s lives.

“Even on the worst day of my po­lit­i­cal life, I feel like it’s all been worth it,” he said.

Franken’s de­par­ture, which he said would oc­cur in “com­ing weeks,” made him the lat­est fig­ure from pol­i­tics, jour­nal­ism and the arts to be top­pled since Oc­to­ber. That’s when the first ar­ti­cles ap­peared re­veal­ing sex­ual abuse al­le­ga­tions against Hol­ly­wood ti­tan Har­vey We­in­stein and en­er­giz­ing the #MeToo move­ment in which women have named men they say abused or ha­rassed them.

Franken’s com­ments ap­pended a melan­choly coda to the po­lit­i­cal ca­reer of the one-time TV fun­ny­man who be­came one of his party’s most pop­u­lar lib­er­als.

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