As expected, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has announced that he is resigning, but with sadness that he is walking away with much work still to be done.
Franken is the latest high-profile man to step down from a job following sexual harassment or misconduct allegations in what appears to be a cultural sea change in the treatment of women in the workplace and beyond.
Franken took to the floor of the Senate to say that he hoped everyone who works for him knows how much he admires and respects them. He said nothing he has done as a senator has brought dishonor on that body, that much that he has done has been in service of standing up for women, and that is was confident the ongoing House Ethics investigation would have borne him out.
He also praised the progressive advocacy that he was proud to be part of.
Franken was pressured to resign by his fellow Democrats over a series of sexual misconduct allegations, ones that Republicans, including the President, were using against the Democrats as part of broad-brush attacks. It was ammunition they did not want to keep handing the opposition. Franken's resignation followed that earlier this week of Sen. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving seated House members, who also was the subject of multiple sexual misconduct allegations.
He conceded it had been a tough few weeks, but that he was a lucky man. "I am going to be just fine," he said.
Franken said there was some irony in the fact that while he was leaving, a man who has bragged on tape about assaulting women sits in the oval office.
He also maintained that some of the allegations were false, and he remembered others quite differently.
In explaining why he felt he had to leave, the pronoun Franken used was important. "Minnesotans deserve a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day."
Franken, who plans to leave in the next several weeks, said that even on this, the worst day of his political life, he feels like it has "all been worth it."
He said he knew the work he was able to do has improved people's lives, and knowing that had helped him in frustrating days of the past. It was clearly a comfort to him now.
"With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor," he said, likely for the last time, though he said that while resigning his seat, he was not "giving up my voice."
"The departures of Senator Al Franken and Representative John Conyers represent the cracking of a dam that generations of men have constructed against accountability for sexual abuse, assault, harassment, and exploitation in the corridors of power in Washington," said progressive group Democracy for America, whose leaderhip team comprises four women.
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