Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) announced his resignation in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday after accusations of sexual misconduct against him surfaced over the past month and he lost the support of his Democratic colleagues.
Despite saying some of the allegations against him were not true and some stories from women he remembered "differently," Franken, his voice shaking at times, said he would depart office "in the coming weeks."
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"I know who I really am," Franken said. "Serving in the United States Senate has been a great honor of my life. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator, nothing, has brought dishonor on this institution, and I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree. Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate."
Franken said there was "irony" in his leaving when President Donald Trump remained in office despite the Access Hollywood tape of him talking about groping women without their consent. He also referenced Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has faced accusations that he pursued relationships with teenaged girls when in his 30s, one of them when she was 14.
"This decision is not about me," Franken said. "It's about the people of Minnesota. It's become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process and at the same time remain an effective senator for them. Let me be clear. I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice."
His decision to step down marks the end of a remarkable downfall for the former comedian who had become a heavyweight in the Democratic Party for his prolific fundraising and strident criticism of the Trump administration.
Los Angeles-based radio host Leeann Tweeden accused him last month of aggressively kissing her without consent during a USO tour in 2006, and she posted a photograph of Franken apparently groping her breasts while she slept. Since then, other women have come forward to allege Franken groped them.
Franken initially said he would cooperate with a Senate ethics investigation and did not appear to plan to resign his seat, but pressure grew as more women charged that he had inappropriately touched them.
When a seventh accuser came forward on Wednesday, a flurry of Democratic senators called for him to step down, beginning with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) in a coordinated social media effort.
Franken said it was the "worst day" of his political life, but he had no doubt he had worked to make people lives' better.