Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on Wednesday for her colleague Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him.
Gillibrand posted on her Facebook page that Franken should “step aside,” and several of her fellow Democrats followed suit.
Several women have accused Franken of groping them. One of the accusers, Leeann Tweeden, said Franken sexually harassed her while they were part of a 2006 USO tour. When she went public with her accusations, Tweeden also shared a picture of Franken appearing to grope her breasts while she slept.
Franken told reporters last month that he apologizes to those “who feel that I have done something disrespectful or that hurt them. For that, I am tremendously sorry.”
What did Gillibrand say?
Gillibrand wrote that she has “been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable.”
“I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families,” she added. “But this moment of reckoning about our friends and colleagues who have been accused of sexual misconduct is necessary, and it is painful. We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person.”
Gillibrand wrote that sexual harassment in the workplace is rampant across America — not just in the high profile industries that have recently made news so “each industry to fundamentally shift the culture.”
“In politics, of course, the problem of sexual harassment and sexual assault is not limited to any one party,” she wrote. “There have been Democrats and Republicans accused of misconduct, and I have no doubt that there will be more because Congress is not immune to this scourge. The question is what are we willing to do about it when courageous women and men come forward.”
“We have to rise to the occasion, and not shrink away from it, even when it’s hard, especially when it’s hard,” she added. “That is what this larger moment is about. So, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on Senator Franken’s behavior. Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated by those of us who are privileged to work in public service.”
She continued, “We should demand the highest standards, not the lowest, from our leaders, and we should fundamentally value and respect women.”
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” she argued.
Who else called for Franken to resign?
DNC chair Tom Perez joined the calls for Franken’s resignation Wednesday morning:
Sen. Al Franken should step down. Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party.
— Tom Perez (@TomPerez) December 6, 2017
Additional female Democratic senators also called for Franken to resign:
Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a good Senator and I consider him a friend. But that cannot excuse his behavior and his mistreatment of women. (thread)
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) December 6, 2017
It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign.
— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) December 6, 2017
I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persistent problem and a clear pattern over a long period of time.
It’s time for him to step aside.
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) December 6, 2017
Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) December 6, 2017
Al Franken should resign.
— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) December 6, 2017