Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has announced that he would resign from Congress over allegations of sexual misconduct. He made the announcement in an emotional speech on the Senate floor. Mr. Franken did not specify precisely when he would leave the Senate, saying only that he would do so “in the coming weeks.”
The announcement came one day after nearly all the Senate’s Democratic women called for him to resign, joined by most Democratic men, including the top two leaders. Until Wednesday, he had said he would remain in his job. The Democratic governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, will choose a successor for Mr. Franken to finish out his term. The governor said that he was still weighing his decision.
In his speech, he took a parting shot at President Trump and Roy S. Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama. He said, “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.”
Sexual harassment may become a wedge issue in the 2018 midterm elections and seeming strong on the matter could help Democrats. However, allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Mr. Trump has not visibly shaken his control over the party. Mr. Moore has been accused of sexually molesting or assaulting girls as young as 14.
Mr. Franken has denied the allegations of groping and improper advances that have come from at least six women. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Mr. Franken said. “Others I remember very differently.” Most of the allegations concern events that occurred before he became a senator.
The senator, a founding writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” narrowly won his seat in 2008. Mr. Franken was a serious figure in the Senate and some viewed him as a potential contender for the presidency in 2020. Leaving the Capitol shortly after his speech, Mr. Franken said he would not be taking questions.
Mr. Franken is one of the most prominent of the lawmakers felled by charges of sexual harassment or indiscretions in the past months. Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, resigned just hours later after the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment.
Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan and the longest-serving African-American in House history, also quit this week, making his announcement on Tuesday. Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas is under pressure for using $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment claim with his former communications director.