US Senator Al Franken’s political career was on the brink today after more than half of his fellow Senate Democrats demanded his departure over multiple claims that he groped women. Franken — a former comedian who made his name on the popular late-night comedy show “Saturday Night Live” before turning to politics — has acknowledged misconduct with at least one accuser. The 66-year-old Minnesota lawmaker apologized last month and vowed to work to regain the trust of his colleagues and voters. But with six other women now reportedly coming forward to accuse Franken of touching them inappropriately, and the issue of sexual harassment reverberating throughout Washington, a chorus of Democratic senators said it was time for him to go. That group include a dozen female and 17 male Democrats, among them the Senate’s top Democrat Chuck Schumer, who heaped major pressure on Franken by issuing a statement saying he should step down “immediately.”
It marked a dramatic and sudden show of unity against one of their own in the 100-member chamber, where the Republicans hold a slim majority. “We must commit to zero tolerance,” Heidi Heitkamp said in a tweet. “And that means Senator Franken should step down.” Two other Senate Democrats stopped short of openly demanding Franken’s resignation, but said he should be held accountable and that sexual harassment should not be tolerated.
Franken’s office said he would make an announcement today. “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow,” said a message on his official Twitter account. “Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.” House Democrat Keith Ellison, a close Franken friend in the Minnesota congressional delegation, said: “I think he will do the right thing and resign.”