American Senator Al Franken of Minnesota said he will resign from Congress in the coming weeks. The Democrat announced his decision Thursday.
Over several weeks, eight women have accused Franken of sexual wrongdoing. Democratic lawmakers pressured him to resign because of the reports.
“I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice,” Franken said in the Senate chamber.
Before he became a senator, Franken was a comedian and cast member of the television show, “Saturday Night Live.” He had gained respect as a serious lawmaker in recent years. Some people were considering Franken as a possible candidate for president in 2020.
On Wednesday morning, a woman said Franken used force to try to kiss her in 2006. Franken strongly denied the report. Hours later, another woman said Franken held part of her body inappropriately while taking a photograph with her in 2009.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said Wednesday, “Enough is enough,” in reaction to the latest accusations. Gillibrand is also a Democrat.
She said “We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable.” She also said the behavior of elected leaders should be held to a higher standard.
Several Democrats quickly followed Gillibrand’s call for Franken to resign, including Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats.
Franken has admitted to some of the accusations of sexual wrongdoing and apologized. But he strongly denies the latest accusations.
“I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken said Thursday.
Franken noted that he was being forced out while President Donald Trump remains in office. Several women have accused Trump of sexual wrongdoing. The president was also recorded years ago talking about grabbing women sexually.
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls, campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.
Trump has given his support to that campaign, in which Republican Roy Moore is seeking to represent the state of Alabama. Several women have reported that Moore sexually harassed them when they were teenagers and he was a state official. The candidate has denied all accusations of sexual wrongdoing.
The pressure on Franken to leave the Senate increased this week after the resignation of Representative John Conyers. The House lawmaker, a Democrat from Michigan, resigned following several reports of sexual wrongdoing.
The accusations against Franken began in November. Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio announcer, accused him of forcibly kissing and touching her in 2006.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on AP news reports. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
chamber - n. a large room where members of a legislature meet
a line in the sand - idiom, a limit to what one will accept or a point beyond which one will not go
standard - n. a level of quality or achievement that is considered desirable
institution - n. an established organization
irony - n. a situation that is strange because things happen in the opposite of what you expect
brag - v. to talk about yourself in a way that show too much pride
prey - v. to hurt someone