By ANDREW TAYLOR
WASHINGTON (AP) — Minnesota Democrat Al Franken, facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats, appears on the brink of resigning from the Senate.
Franken’s office said he will make an announcement at 11:45 a.m. Thursday in a speech on the Senate floor. His office tweeted Wednesday evening that he had not made “a final decision” on resigning.
But a majority of the Senate’s Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit after a woman emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed “a handful of flesh” on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009. That brought the number of women alleging misconduct by Franken to at least eight.
Franken, the former comedian who made his name on “Saturday Night Live,” faces a chorus of calls to step aside, and Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.
“Enough is enough,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.”
Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.
“I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,” said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. “It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time. It’s time for him to step aside.”
Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken’s Twitter account said: “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.”
Late in the day, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.
“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Schumer said.
The resignation demands came in rapid succession even though Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied 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 Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”
Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was “preposterous.”
But it was clear his position had become untenable.
Fellow Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, “I am confident he will make the right decision.”
The pressure only mounted Tuesday, when Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces pressure to resign as well over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former campaign worker.
While Franken apparently is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 special election. Multiple women have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it could create a political nightmare for Republicans, who have promised an ethics probe.
A national conversation about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the heavily publicized case of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, including rape, by actresses and other women. Just on Wednesday, Time magazine named as its person of the year the “silence breakers” — women who have come forward on sexual harassment.
Punishment has been swift for leaders in entertainment, media and sports while members of Congress have tried to survive the onslaught of allegations.
Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.
The allegations 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.
Franken has apologized for his behavior but has also disputed some of the allegations.
Associated Press writers Juliet Linderman in Washington and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to this report.
Voters are casting away
As of 2 p.m., 4,169 people in Onslow County have voted.
The only Democratic ballot with the highest voter turnout is in Richlands with 380 ballots cast so far. Four other precincts with a Democratic race are Catherine Lake (147), Gum Branch (221), Haws Run (138), and Nine Mile (122).
New River precinct has only seen eight voters so far-because they have Democratic ballots.
Precincts with just Republican ballots have reached higher number than those with ballots for two political parties.
Northwoods is in 2nd with the highest turnout of voters (273), followed by Brynn Marr and East Northwoods, both of which have seen (249) voters.
Vote Count For Each Precinct:
- Bear Creek: 241
- Brynn Marr: 249
- Catherine Lake: 147
- Cross Roads: 225
- East Northwoods: 249
- Folkstone: 166
- Gum Branch: 221
- Half Moon: 172
- Haws Run: 138
- Holly Ridge: 86
- Hubert: 155
- Jacksonville: 81
- Mills: 62
- Morton’s: 100
- New River: 8
- Nine Mile: 122
- Northeast A: 83
- Northeast B: 193
- Richlands: 380
- Snead’s Ferry: 223
- Swansboro: 314
- Tar Landing: 169
- Verona: 112
- West Northwoods: 273
Voters to choose party nominees in Primary Election Day
North Carolina voters are choosing their parties’ nominees in dozens of legislative and congressional primary races congested with contestants.
More than 35 current General Assembly members and eight congressional incumbents are trying to advance through Tuesday’s primary elections.
Sitting members of Congress seeking re-election include House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chief deputy whip in the House. The most threatened GOP incumbents may be Reps. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte and Walter Jones of Farmville.
A little over 4 percent of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters cast ballots before Tuesday through early in-person or traditional absentee voting. Some registrants had no primaries in which to vote because there are no statewide races on Tuesday’s ballot.
You can find voter information including your registered polling precinct and a sample ballot for your area at the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement website. The polls are open from 6:30am-7:30 pm.
Who will be your pick for Onslow County Sheriff on May 8? Vote Now!
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