Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign

Democratic senators came out in droves Wednesday calling for Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls #MeToo era shows there's almost never only one accuser, says Hill.TV's Krystal Ball Hypocrisy in Kavanaugh case enough to set off alarms in DC MORE (D-Minn.) to resign following multiple accusations of groping and improper sexual conduct.

The charge was led by women in the Senate, seven of whom came out with successive statements seemingly in coordination calling for Franken to step down.

"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," Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTeen girls pen open letter supporting Kavanaugh accuser: We imagine you at that party and 'see ourselves' Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster MORE (D-N.Y.), the first out with a statement, said in a message posted on Facebook.

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The statements mark a shift for Democratic senators who previously dodged calls for Franken to resign despite a growing number of allegations against him. As recently as last week they said they were waiting for the Ethics Committee to review the accusations against him.

That changed when a new charge became public on Wednesday from a woman who said the senator has sought to forcibly kiss her in a 2006 incident.  

Six female Democratic senators quickly followed Gillibrand in saying that Franken should step down: Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle MORE (Calif.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskill'Kavanaugh' chants erupt at Trump rally in Missouri The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify Drug companies will love Trump's plan to get rid of drug rebates — the consumers will hate it MORE (Mo.), Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care: HHS diverts funds to pay for detaining migrant children | Health officials defend transfers | Lawmakers consider easing drug company costs in opioids deal Trump health official defends funding shifts to pay for detained migrant children Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh MORE (Wash.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDem senator: Judiciary Committee doing 'railroad job' against Kavanaugh accuser Teen girls pen open letter supporting Kavanaugh accuser: We imagine you at that party and 'see ourselves' Senate Dem: It's 'bulls---' for Republicans to say they have done all they can to contact Kavanaugh accuser MORE (Hawaii), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump Poll: Democrats inch forward in Wisconsin MORE (Wis.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanHouse panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills Chris Pappas wins Democratic House primary in New Hampshire Overnight Health Care: Manchin fires gun at anti-ObamaCare lawsuit in new ad | More Dems come out against Kavanaugh | Michigan seeks Medicaid work requirements MORE (N.H.).  

"I believe the best thing for Senator Franken to do is step down," Harris said.

By early afternoon, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGrassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan group wants to lift Medicaid restriction on substance abuse treatment MORE (Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat, and Democratic Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowCongress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms Trump attacks Dems on farm bill Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security MORE (Mich.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP Senate candidate: Allegations against Kavanaugh 'absurd' The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination MORE (N.D.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyPoll: Democrats hold big leads in Pennsylvania Senate, governor races The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again MORE Jr. (Pa.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (Ohio), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (Ind.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Multiple NFL players continue on-field protests during national anthem MORE (Colo.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes Dems introduce bill to ban low-yield nukes Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (Mass.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellPartisan politics at independent agency draws bipartisan rebuke Senators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Poll: Majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade MORE (Wash.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying Ford opens door to testifying next week Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (Vt.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP Senate candidate: Allegations against Kavanaugh 'absurd' Grassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichElection Countdown: What to watch in final primaries | Dems launch M ad buy for Senate races | Senate seats most likely to flip | Trump slump worries GOP | Koch network's new super PAC Rand Paul endorses Gary Johnson's Senate bid The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s legal jeopardy mounts after Manafort, Cohen felony counts MORE (N.M.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthDems should run as economic progressives, says ex-Obama strategist Democrats must reconcile party factions to raise blue wave odds Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (Ill.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts DHS transferred about 0M from separate agencies to ICE this year: report MORE (Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTrump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' Melania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change MORE (Del.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: NYT says Rosenstein wanted to wear wire on Trump | Twitter bug shared some private messages | Vendor put remote-access software on voting machines | Paypal cuts ties with Infowars | Google warned senators about foreign hacks Overnight Health Care: Opioids package nears finish line | Measure to help drug companies draws ire | Maryland ObamaCare rates to drop Google says senators' Gmail accounts targeted by foreign hackers MORE (Ore.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (N.M.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches Situation in Yemen should lead us to return to a constitutional foreign policy Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war MORE (Conn.), Gary PetersGary Charles PetersLawmakers move to award posthumous Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act Bipartisanship alive and well, protecting critical infrastructure MORE (Mich.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem vows to probe 'why the FBI stood down' on Kavanaugh Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Senate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents MORE (R.I.) had also called on Franken to resign.

Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE (Vt.) and Angus KingAngus Stanley KingRestoring our national parks would be a bipartisan win for Congress Restore our parks Renaming Senate office building after McCain sparks GOP backlash MORE (Maine), both Independents who caucus with the Democrats, also called on Franken to step down.

"The right thing is for him to resign. We are now at a crossroads in American culture. And it is an important one. The way we treat women in our country has been abysmal in almost every way. We are finally addressing the issue of sexual harassment, and we need to get it right," Sanders said in a statement.

Franken's office said he would be making an announcement on Thursday.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls GOP in striking distance to retake Franken seat MORE (D), the other senator from Minnesota, did not explicitly echo calls for Franken to resign but said she had spoken with her colleague. 

"Sexual harassment is unacceptable. This morning I spoke with Senator Franken and, as you know, he will be making an announcement about his future tomorrow morning. I am confident he will make the right decision," she said in a statement.

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — GOP again has momentum on Kavanaugh rollercoaster Poll: Kaine leads GOP challenger by 19 points in Va. Senate race MORE (D-Va.) also declined to comment on Wednesday, saying that he would speak to Franken directly and release a statement after Thursday's press conference.

The women calling for Franken to step down included possible 2020 presidential candidates Harris and Gillibrand, and Murray, the No. 3 Democrat and highest-ranking female senator.

"I'm shocked and appalled by Sen. 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," Murray said.

She added that "we cannot pick and choose based on political party or friendship who we call out."

The Boston Globe reported that Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.), another possible presidential candidate, had called Franken to urge him to step down.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP, Kavanaugh accuser struggle to reach deal GOP making counteroffer to Kavanaugh accuser The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins MORE (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said he did not believe Franken could "effectively serve the people of Minnesota in the U.S. Senate any longer."

"While the Senate Ethics Committee is reviewing these serious allegations, it now appears that Senator Franken has lost the support of his colleagues, and most importantly, his constituents," McConnell said in a statement, calling the allegations against Franken "extremely concerning to all of us in the Senate."

Franken has been battling allegations of sexual misconduct since mid-November when radio host Leeann Tweeden said he kissed and groped her without her consent during a 2006 USO tour.

Since then, multiple women have come forward saying Franken inappropriately touched them.

Franken, who routinely doesn't speak to reporters in the Capitol, has kept a relatively low profile since allegations first surfaced against him last month.

He skipped four Senate votes and a caucus lunch in the immediate wake of the initial allegation, and spoke on the Senate floor for the first time since early November on Dec. 1.

Still, he went on an apology tour late last month, speaking with local media and holding a rare press conference with Capitol Hill press. He said at the time that he was "embarrassed and ashamed" by the allegations of groping, while also noting he doesn't remember all of the alleged instances. 
 
"Those are instances that I do not remember ... [but] it's been clear that there are some women, and one is too many, who feel that I have done something disrespectful, and I've hurt them. And for that I am tremendously sorry," Franken told reporters on Monday.

The calls for Franken to resign come as he is already under an Ethics Committee investigation.

"While the committee does not generally comment on pending matters that may come before it, in this instance, the committee is publicly confirming that it has opened a preliminary inquiry into Senator Franken's alleged misconduct," committee members said in a statement.

If Franken doesn't step down voluntarily, the committee could move forward with a range of potential punishments from a public admonishment to recommending the Senate expel him. 

The Senate last expelled a member — a move that requires support for two-thirds of the chamber — in 1862 for supporting the confederacy.

The pressure on Franken to step down Wednesday also comes one day after Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersCongressional Ethics committees are the wrong place to settle harassment and discrimination claims Conservative activist disrupts campaign event for Muslim candidates Michigan Dems elect state's first all-female statewide ticket for midterms MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) resigned from the House amid his own sexual harassment controversy.

And it's a week before election day in Alabama, where Republican Roy Moore is the favorite for a Senate seat despite allegations from multiple women of improper conduct, including one woman who said Moore touched her sexually when she was 14 and he was 32.

Franken isn't up for reelection next year. If he steps down immediately, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) would appoint someone to fill his seat until a special election in 2018. The winner of that election would fill the seat for the remaining two years of Franken's term, while a second election would be held in 2020 for a full six-year term.

Updated: 4:30 p.m.