On Thursday morning on the floor of the Senate, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken announced his resignation over allegations of sexual misconduct:
A couple months ago, I felt that we had entered an important moment in the history of this country. We were finally beginning to listen to women about the ways in which men’s actions affect them. The moment was long overdue. I was excited for that conversation and hopeful that it would result in real change that made life better for women all across the country and in every part of our society.
Then the conversation turned to me. Over the last few weeks, a number of women have come forward to talk about how they felt my actions had affected them. I was shocked. I was upset. But in responding to their claims, I also wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation. Because all women deserve to be heard, and their experiences taken seriously, I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that, in fact, I haven’t done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.
Franken went on to suggest that he believed the Ethics Committee’s investigation would have ultimately vindicated him and said that nothing he had done as a senator had dishonored the institution. Franken also talked about his work on women’s issues. “You know, an important part of the conversation we’ve been having the last few months has been about how men abuse their power and privilege to hurt women,” he said. “I am proud that during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion of women and that I’ve earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day. I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am.”
Nevertheless, Franken said he would resign in the coming weeks, noting that the Ethics Committee’s investigation would conflict with his duties as a senator. “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,” he said. “But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota.”
Franken closed by thanking his family and staff, praising those who have gotten involved with politics since President Trump’s election, and saying that he would continue his political work as a citizen and an activist. “For a decade now, every time I would get tired or discouraged or frustrated, I would think about the people I was doing this for, and it would get me back up on my feet,” he said. “I know the same will be true for everyone who decides to pursue a politics that is about improving people’s lives. And I hope you know that I will be fighting alongside you every step of the way.”