Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken stepped down to the senate floor on Thursday, giving an 11 minute promise to resign from the job he claimed to have been “the great honor” of his life. The U.S Senator of 8 years vowed to leave his post after facing urges from his colleagues to leave legislation after being accused of sexual assault by a 6th woman.
Mr. Franken, who made headlines last month when a picture of him inappropriately touching a sleeping newscaster surfaced on Twitter, spoke of his longstanding respect for women, his gratitude for his career, and defended his own character after his public image had been plagued by the reported accusations. Although Mr.Franken spoke to his fellow colleagues about his future and the need to continue to fight for women’s justice, he took time to remind the audience that he was not the lone public figure caught in these battles.
“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 the 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.”
The comments Mr. Franken made in his speech refer to Donald Trump boasting about groping women without consent on Access Hollywood and Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with multiple underage women. The news from Senator Franken came just 4 days after Mr. Trump officially endorsed Mr. Moore’s campaign and only 4 days before the Alabama special election takes place.
President Trump, who originally endorsed Luther Strange for the Alabama seat, has only recently shown support for Mr. Moore, a move that came after other Republican leaders, like Mitch McConnell and Jeff Sessions, pulled their support for the candidate stating they didn’t doubt the claims made against him. Although Mr. Moore seemed to have lost his chance at winning once the allegations began to surface, his endorsement by the President and a new twist in one of the accusations, has given him hopes of winning the election as he expected to do.
Beverly Young Nelson, one of Mr. Moore’s accusers, admitted to lying on Friday during a Good Morning America interview that she wrote the note above the Senate hopefuls signature, which contradicts her initial statement of which she said he wrote ” ‘To a sweeter and more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love Roy Moore, Olde Hickory House.’ And he signed it Roy Moore D.A’ ” Roy Moore has continued to deny the allegations, using the new information to support his claims.
The allegations of both Mr. Franken and Mr. Moore were the earliest stories of sexual misconduct in the political world, but stories of other politicians such as Democratic Representative John Conyers and Republican Trent Franks have caused them to also follow the suit of resigning from their public office roles. Women of the Senate, like Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Jackie Speier of California, have banded together to create legislation to fight against sexual harassment and abuse, paving the way for a new future for leading women to feel safe and secure while at work, and to ensure women are also being heard appropriately if they do encounter an unwanted approach. Senator Gillibrand, in light of the allegations, argued that there is a “serious sexual harassment problem in Congress and too many Congressional offices are not taking this policy seriously at all.”