US Senator Al Franken resigns from Senate after sexual misconduct allegations

Published: 08 December 2017 Image credit: Reuters

Al Franken following his Senate resignation

Democratic US Senator Al Franken has resigned from the Senate three weeks after accusations of sexual misconduct against him surfaced from several women in the US.

Franken, who first rose to fame as an actor on Saturday Night Live, said he was resigning from his seat “in the coming weeks.”

“This decision is not about me, it's about the people of Minnesota,” he said in an address to the Senate.

“It has become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them.”

Franken said a part of him will regret resigning from his Senate position because of the work he had yet to do, and he added that while he is resigning from his seat, “I am not giving up my voice.”

“I will continue to stand up for the things I believe in - as a citizen and as an activist," he said.

“I hope you know that I will be fighting alongside you every step of the way.”

Franken said it was “ironic” that he was resigning while other high profile politicians were able to remain in office.

“A man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assaults 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,” he said, referencing President Trump and current Republican candidate Roy Moore.

Accusations against the Senator first surfaced in November after a US morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden alleged Franken had kissed and groped her without her consent during a rehearsal for a USO tour in Afghanistan in 2006.

Ms Tweeden also tweeted a photo from the tour which pictures the Minnesota senator apparently grabbing the journalist’s breasts while she slept in her army gear on a plane.

Franken responded to the allegations when they first arose, calling his actions “inappropriate” and that he was “disgusted” with himself.

“I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse,” he said.

“It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it.”

Since the initial allegations, more women have come forward accusing Franken of sexual misconduct against them.

However, Franken said “some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember differently.”

In his Senate address Franken said serving the US senate was “the great honour” of his life.

“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator – nothing – has brought dishonour on this institution.”

The governor of Minnesota will now appoint Franken’s replacement until a formal election for his position can be held in 2018.