Al Franken says report he is quitting the Senate is premature

Dec 06, 2017

Al Franken speaking to the media after returning back to work in the Senate on Capitol Hill, Nov. 27, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)al 

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Al Franken denied a report that he had decided to quit the Senate after a seventh woman alleged sexual misconduct and half the body’s Democratic caucus said he should go.

Minnesota Public Radio quoted an official who had spoken to Franken as saying he would quit on Thursday, but Franken denied it on Twitter.

“No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family,” Franken’s Twitter account said late Wednesday. “Please update your story.”

Franken’s status seemed increasingly untenable after a report emerged Wednesday of a seventh accuser. Half of the Democratic caucus called on him to step down, including Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the minority leader. Franken and Schumer are both Jewish.

Also calling on Franken to go are Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., widely seen as a presidential contender in 2020, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the first Jewish candidate to win major-party nominating contests in last year’s Democratic primaries.

An unnamed former Democratic congressional aide told Politico in a story published Wednesday that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.

Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, apologized earlier this month to Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio host, who said he forcibly kissed and groped her during a 2006 tour. Tweeden released a photo showing Franken posing with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.

Three other women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate campaign events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.