“Saturday Night Live” comic turned U.S. Sen. Al Franken says he'll resign following growing calls for him to do so sparked by broadcaster Leeann Tweeden’s accusations that Franken left her feeling “disgusted and violated” when they were both part of a 2006 performance for troops.
"Today I am announcing that in coming weeks I will be resigning," he said from the floor of the Senate just now.
Reaction on Twitter was swift and varied, with Donald Trump Jr. cackling over Franken's denouement but artists including Ellen Barkin and Bette Midler lamenting the move .
Franken began his remarks talking about his interest in supporting women who have shared abuse allegations.
"I was excited for that conversation and hopeful it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society. Then the conversation turned to me," he said. "Over the last few weeks a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset."
Still, he said, "All women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously."
He did not get into details but said, "Some of the allegations about me simply are not true. Others I remember very differently."
He called his time in the Senate a great honor and said he's done nothing during his time in office to bring dishonor to the chamber. He thanked his family, staff and constituents in his remarks. Without mentioning names, he lobbed a verbal missile at President Donald Trump and U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Moore.
"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," he said.
His remarks were brief and somber.
"I'm going to be just fine," he said. "Even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it's all been worth it. I know the work I've been able to do has improved people's lives. I would do it all again in a heartbeat."
He said that he will continue to champion causes he has worked for as a politician, now as a citizen: "I will be fighting alongside you every step of the way."
Franken, who canceled an Atlanta appearance shortly after Tweeden came forward , authored several books and hosted a talk show on Air America before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Tweeden said she and Franken were both part of a USO tour that included a skit he wrote, during which they were to kiss. She had planned to rebuff him for comic effect, but he demanded they rehearse ahead of time, wrote in an public message posted on social media.
“He came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she wrote. Her post includes a photo of Franken making a lewd gesture next to her while she was asleep.
Calls for Franken to step down have grown louder in recent days, notably from lawmakers in his own party. Actor Tom Arnold, on the other hand, took to Twitter to blast Tweeden ahead of Franken's announcement.
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