- Eric Thayer/The New York Times
- Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 5, 2017.
By YAMICHE ALCINDOR
© 2017 New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON — Eleven Senate Democratic women — and multiple Democratic men, including the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat — called for Sen. Al Franken to resign Wednesday, after a sixth woman came forward to charge that the Minnesota Democrat had made an improper advance on her.
Franken scheduled an announcement Thursday on his future in the Senate.
That future does not look bright. Gillibrand was joined by Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, who issued statements in a coordinated effort.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, added his support, as did Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“It’s time for him to resign,” Durbin said. “It just seemed that the credible charges continued. I thought it might be an isolated incident or two. It seems to be that there was a pattern of conduct.”
Gillibrand started the avalanche with an extended statement on Facebook.
“As elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards — not the lowest,” Gillibrand wrote on Facebook. “The allegations against Sen. Franken describe behavior that cannot be tolerated. While he’s entitled to an Ethics Committee hearing, I believe he should step aside to let someone else serve.”
Franken has apologized for his behavior, but the senators said his admissions are not enough.
“We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person,” Gillibrand said.
That was followed in rapid succession with other statements. Hirono said the effort was indeed coordinated.
“We’re at the point where I think that there can be a cultural change in terms of how women are perceived and treated in this country,” Hirono said. “This kind of bad behavior has been tolerated and ignored for far too long, but not today.”