Sen. Al Franken’s ongoing sexual assault scandal reached a tipping point Wednesday when more than half the Senate’s Democrats called for him to resign after a sixth accuser came forward.
Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer met privately with Franken and his wife after the latest allegation came to light, a person familiar with the meeting told the Daily News.
The New York lawmaker urged Franken to step down — and later made his wishes known publicly, saying in a statement that the Minnesota Democrat has an obligation to his constituents and to the Senate and should resign.
The sentiment was quickly echoed by fellow New York Dem Kirsten Gillibrand.
“Enough is enough,” she said, as three dozen other Senate Dems issued their own statements calling on Franken to relinquish his post.
At first it seemed Franken would acquiesce. His office said he would make an announcement Thursday. Soon after, Minnesota Public Radio reported sources close to Franken said he planned to resign.
But Franken almost immediately pushed back.
A spate of Democratic lawmakers called on Sen. Al Franken to resign Tuesday after new allegations of sexual assault surfaced.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
“Not accurate,” said a tweet from his official account, aimed at MPR News.
“No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family,” it said.
A second tweet about an hour later stressed that “Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”
The escalating demands for Franken to quit followed a sixth report of sexual harassment against the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member.
An anonymous woman told Politico Wednesday Franken tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006 after a taping of his radio show.
She was a Democratic congressional aide at the time and Franken was three years away from becoming a U.S. senator.
Politicians accused of sexual harassment or assault
He allegedly told her “It’s my right as an entertainer,” the former aide said to Politico.
Franken denied the allegation as “categorically not true” and “preposterous.”
But the woman’s allegations mirror those of Franken’s five other accusers — especially the story of Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden.
She went public with her allegation in November, accusing Franken of forcibly kissing her in 2006 while they were on a USO tour in Afghanistan.
Franken has denied some of the allegations and apologized for some of his past behavior — and promised to be “more careful in these encounters or in these situations” in future.
He also said on Wednesday that he will be “fully cooperating” with the ongoing Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the allegations.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on Sen. Al Franken to resign Tuesday as new sexual assault allegations surfaced against the embattled lawmaker.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
But that wasn’t enough to appease Schumer, Gillibrand and a majority of Senate Democrats.
“I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator Franken’s behavior. Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them,” Gillibrand said Wednesday.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri also took to Twitter to say, “Al Franken should resign.”
Hawaiian Sen. Mazie Hirono likewise joined the string of lawmakers condemning Franken.
“Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women,” she said.
Sens. Kamala Harris, Maggie Hassan, Patty Murray, Tammy Baldwin, Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Dick Durbin, Joe Donnelly and Debbie Stabenow also urged Franken to step aside, as did Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez.