WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., announced Thursday he will step down in the coming weeks amid allegations of sexual misconduct by several women.
The announcement by Franken comes after a number of his Democratic colleagues called for his resignation over the allegations.
Franken noted in a speech on the Senate floor that his decision comes even as President Donald Trump and Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore have also been accused of sexual misconduct.
'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.
'But this decision is not about me. It's about the people of Minnesota,' he added. 'And it's become clear that I can't both pursue the Ethics Committee process and, at the same time, remain an effective Senator for them.'
Franken's resignation comes as seven women have come forward in recent weeks and accused the senator of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them.
The former comedian said some of the allegations against him are simply not true, while he remembers the other alleged incidents very differently.
'I am proud that, during my time in the Senate, I have used my power to be a champion for women - and that I have earned a reputation as someone who respects the women I work alongside every day,' Franken said.
'I know there's been a very different picture of me painted over the last few weeks,' he added. 'But I know who I really am.'
The decision by Franken sets up a special election next year in which candidates will run to serve out the final two years of his term.
A report from Politico said Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is expected to appoint Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to fill Franken's seat until the election in November of 2018.
Sources told Politico that Smith would not run for the remainder of Franken's term, clearing the way for a wide open Democratic primary.
(Photo: Lorie Shaull)
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