Franken officially resigns from Senate after groping allegations
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Franken officially resigns from Senate after groping allegations

Senator steps down day after eighth woman accuses him of sexual misconduct

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) looks at his wife Franni Bryson, before walking to the Senate chamber to announce his resignation on December 7, 2017 on Capitol Hill. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) looks at his wife Franni Bryson, before walking to the Senate chamber to announce his resignation on December 7, 2017 on Capitol Hill. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Minnesota Democrat Al Franken officially resigned from the Senate on Tuesday after announcing he would step down last month amid multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Franken submitted his letter of resignation to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. He said it “has been a privilege and an honor” to serve in the Senate.

“I am grateful to Minnesotans for giving me a chance to serve our state and our nation, and I am proud to have worked on their behalf,” he wrote in the letter.

Franken’s replacement, Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, is set to be sworn in on Wednesday. She plans to run for the seat in a November special election.

In this photo from Dec. 13, 2017, Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks as Gov. Mark Dayton listens during a news conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via AP, File)

Franken’s announcement last month that he would resign came after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and a collapse of support from his Democratic colleagues, a swift political fall for a once-rising Democratic star.

He quit just a day after new allegations brought the number of women alleging misconduct by him to at least eight. One woman said he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006, an accusation he vehemently denied. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009.

“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken declared from the Senate floor last month.

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” had originally sought to remain in the Senate and cooperate with an ethics investigation, saying he would work to regain the trust of Minnesotans.

“Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” Franken said. “Others I remember quite differently.” Still, he said he could not both cooperate with an investigation and fully carry out his duties to his constituents.

Franken had gained respect as a serious lawmaker in recent years and had even been mentioned in talk about the 2020 presidential campaign.

Franken has acknowledged and apologized for some inappropriate behavior, but he strongly denies the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that she ducked to avoid his lips but Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

A photograph released by Leeann Tweeden on November 16, 2017, which shows her sleeping on board an aircraft, with Al Franken shown reaching out as if to grope her breasts (Twitter)

Franken said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”

The allegations against him began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

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