Senator Al Franken announced today he will resign in the coming weeks. He told his colleagues on the Senate floor, “I know there’s been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks, but I know who I really am. I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator — nothing — has brought dishonor on this institution.”
Franken says he was shocked and upset at the allegations of sexual harassment, but in responding to those claims wanted to be respectful of the broader conversation, because he says all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously. Franken says it was the right thing to do but, “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’s voice nearly broke when he said there’s “some irony” in him 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.” There was no immediate response from the White House.
Governor Mark Dayton must appoint a replacement for Franken. He says he has not yet decided and expects to make and announce his decision “in the next couple of days.” Analysts say Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith is his most likely choice, but that has political complications because the president of the state Senate, Republican Michelle Fischbach from Paynesville, would then become lieutenant governor.
Here’s Franken’s complete speech on the Senate floor: