Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., his wife Franni, arrive at the Senate to make a statement on charges of sexual misconduct, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Franken finally quits Senate but says he’s INNOCENT

Minnesota Democrat Al Franken announced Thursday he would resign from the Senate amid groping allegations – but maintained his innocence and blasted President Trump for bragging about ‘his history of sexual assault.’

Franken was facing fresh allegations of sexual misconduct and vanishing support from fellow Democrats when he made the announcement Thursday morning from the floor of the Senate.

Franken said he will leave in ‘the coming weeks’ – even as he insisted the public charges he groped a slew of women were not accurate. A raft of his colleagues disagreed, coming out against him 24 hours earlier in an extraordinary effort to get him out of the chamber.

‘Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently,’ said Franken.

As the most high-profile politician to lose his job over recent harassment allegations, he took a direct shot at President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.

‘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 the Oval Office,’ Franken said, in an obvious reference to the infamous ‘p**** tape.’

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., his wife Franni, arrive at the Senate to make a statement on charges of sexual misconduct, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., his wife Franni, arrive at the Senate to make a statement on charges of sexual misconduct, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017

Career deathwatch: Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken will speak on the Senate floor Thursday morning and is expected to resign following a string of sexual harassment allegations

Career deathwatch: Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken will speak on the Senate floor Thursday morning and is expected to resign following a string of sexual harassment allegations

‘And a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaign for the Senate with the full support of his party. But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota,’ he said of Moore, who is accused of dating and sexually touching teens while he was in his 30s in Alabama in the late ’70s ad early ’80s.

Franken said his state deserves ‘a senator who can focus with all her energy on addressing the challenges they face every day’ – a possible indication he would be succeeded by a woman such as Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

He said he could have survived an Ethics Committee inquiry, and said he was ‘shocked’ and ‘upset’ when the focus of attention on sexual harassment turned to himself.

‘All women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously,’ Franken said, even as he continued to dispute public claims by women who say he grabbed and kissed them without consent.

Sessions announced his decision to leave the Senate on Thursday

Sessions announced his decision to leave the Senate on Thursday

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) announces his resignation while addressing allegations of sexual misconduct

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) announces his resignation while addressing allegations of sexual misconduct

He said his initial decision to submit to an inquiry and speak about honoring the experiences of women ‘gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven’t done.’

The move makes him the most high-profile politician to be brought down by the wave of sexual harassment allegations that have rocked business, Hollywood, and politics.

It was not immediately clear when Franken would vacate his post. Minnesota’s Democratic governor, Mark Dayton, himself a former senator, gets to appoint a temporary replacement until a special election would be held.

'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 the oval office,' Franken said

‘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 the oval office,’ Franken said

The network indicated Franken would remain in the Senate until the end of the year.

Franken’s announcement comes just days after Democratic Rep. John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House, resigned his seat in Congress over sexual misconduct allegations.

He fell under extraordinary pressure from fellow Democrats, who are pummeling President Trump and the Republican Party for continuing to support Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is accused of sexual misconduct with girls who were in their teens.

Franken scheduled an announcement for Thursday, though his office tweeted Wednesday evening that he had not made ‘a final decision’ on resigning.

Franken’s speech follows an extraordinary effort by fellow Democrats to get him out of the chamber.

It began Wednesday morning with calls by a group of women senators that he step down, soon snowballing as more than half the comedian’s former colleagues called on him to quit.

Franken approaches the Capitol on the way to announce his resignation

Franken approaches the Capitol on the way to announce his resignation

By Wednesday evening, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer joined the public calls. He reportedly hosted Franken at his Washington D.C. home while the former comedian tried to find a path forward.

But a majority of the Senate’s Democrats called on the two-term lawmaker to quit after a woman emerged Wednesday morning saying he forcibly tried to kiss her in 2006. Hours later, another woman said Franken inappropriately squeezed ‘a handful of flesh’ on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009. That brought the number of women alleging misconduct by Franken to at least eight.

Accused again: After the first allegation by radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, who produced this notorious photograph, Al Franken had a steady drip of follow-up accusers

Accused again: After the first allegation by radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden, who produced this notorious photograph, Al Franken had a steady drip of follow-up accusers

Lindsay Menz (left) claims Franken grabbed her rear end while they posed for this photograph

Lindsay Menz (left) claims Franken grabbed her rear end while they posed for this photograph

'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 the oval office,' Franken said

‘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 the oval office,’ Franken said

Franken, the former comedian who made his name on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ faces a chorus of calls to step aside, and Democratic senators said they expected their liberal colleague to resign.

‘Enough is enough,’ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. ‘We need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK, none of it is acceptable, and we, as elected leaders, should absolutely be held to a higher standard.’

Gillibrand was the first to call for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, but a torrent of Democrats quickly followed.

‘I’m shocked and appalled by Sen. Franken’s behavior,’ said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state. ‘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.’

Though the writing appeared to be on the wall, Franken’s departure was not certain. A tweet posted Wednesday evening on Franken’s Twitter account said: ‘Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate.’

Late in the day, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York added his voice.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among a group of female senators who called on Al Franken to resign from the Senate

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among a group of female senators who called on Al Franken to resign from the Senate

The writing was on the wall by the end of Wednesday when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Franken it was time for him to leave

The writing was on the wall by the end of Wednesday when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Franken it was time for him to leave

‘I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,’ Schumer said.

The resignation demands came in rapid succession even though Franken on Wednesday vehemently denied the new accusation that came from a former Democratic congressional aide, who said he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.

The woman, who was not identified, told Politico that Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said that she ducked to avoid his lips and that Franken told her: ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’

Franken, in a statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right was ‘preposterous.’

But it was soon clear that his position had become untenable.

Fellow Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who spoke to Franken, wrote on Twitter, ‘I am confident he will make the right decision.’

Members of the media are lined up outside the Senate office of Sen. Al Franken on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017

Members of the media are lined up outside the Senate office of Sen. Al Franken on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017

The pressure only mounted Tuesday, when Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., resigned after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct. Rep Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces pressure to resign as well over allegations reported by Buzzfeed that he repeatedly propositioned a former campaign worker.

While Franken apparently is departing, Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore could be arriving, if he prevails in a Dec. 12 special election. Multiple women have accused the 70-year-old Moore of sexual misconduct with them when they were teens and he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. If Moore is elected, it could create a political nightmare for Republicans, who have promised an ethics probe.

A national conversation about sexual harassment has intensified this fall after the heavily publicized case of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of many acts of sexual misconduct, including rape, by actresses and other women. Just on Wednesday, Time magazine named as its person of the year the ‘silence breakers’ – women who have come forward on sexual harassment.

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken's Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken's Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken's Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

TWEET STORM: A series of Sen. Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues called on him to resign Wednesday

Punishment has been swift for leaders in entertainment, media and sports while members of Congress have tried to survive the onslaught of allegations.

Franken already faced a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.

The allegations began in mid-November when Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio anchor, accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour in Afghanistan.

Other allegations followed, including a woman who says Franken put his hand on her buttocks as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo on a USO tour in 2003.

Franken has apologized for his behavior but has also disputed some of the allegations.

Posted on; DailyMail>>

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