Under pressure, Democratic Senator Franken to address calls to step down

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Senator Al Franken will announce his decision to remain in or resign from the U.S. Senate on Thursday after facing intense pressure from members of his own party to step down following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Franken, a former comedian who was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party before accusations surfaced three weeks ago that he had groped or tried to kiss women without their consent, was discussing the matter with his family on Wednesday and no final decision about his future had been made, his office said.

Minnesota Public Radio, citing a Democratic official who had spoken to the senator and aides, reported Franken would resign.

After the initial accusations were first made public, Franken said he would stay in office and work to regain the confidence of the citizens of Minnesota, which he represents in Congress.

RELATED: Democratic senators call on Al Franken to resign

19 PHOTOS
Democratic senators call on Al Franken to resign
See Gallery
Democratic senators call on Al Franken to resign
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first to publish a Wednesday post on social media calling for Al Franken's Senate resignation, and her colleagues were quick to follow ...
As elected officials, we should be held to the highest standards—not the lowest. The allegations against Sen. Frank… https://t.co/h2BHS6O5nd
Today, I am calling on my colleague Al Franken to step aside. I’ve struggled with this decision because he’s been a… https://t.co/6o1WP2RhFC
Sexual harassment and misconduct should not be allowed by anyone and should not occur anywhere. I believe the best… https://t.co/YrXRgyJpTn
Sen. Al Franken should step down. Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect… https://t.co/u6cgoWHi42
Al Franken should resign.
It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women. He should resign.
I’m shocked and appalled by Senator Franken’s behavior. It’s clear to me that this has been a deeply harmful, persi… https://t.co/PPwAl5dAEY
I am deeply disappointed by Senator Franken’s behavior. He must step aside. My full statement here: https://t.co/Ad0L8WC0Fr
I believe it is best for Senator Franken to resign.
I agree with my colleagues who have stepped forward today and called on Senator Franken to resign. We can’t just be… https://t.co/Gt1Tnsvh1a
Sen. Franken has said that he will be making an announcement about his political future tomorrow. The right thing is for him to resign.
I have listened to them. I have listened to my female colleagues, to women I work with and women in my life. And I… https://t.co/Zh99IfLaUU
My statement on Sen. Franken: https://t.co/SuI2gmHHRk
Senator Franken’s behavior was wrong. He has admitted to what he did. He should resign from the Senate.
Sexual harassment is unacceptable. I believe Senator Franken should do the right thing and resign.
Al Franken has been a friend to many in the Senate – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – but these alle… https://t.co/kX1Wyrv2Y2
Joe is calling for Senator Franken to resign. https://t.co/ff5i1rnhJs
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

But a majority of his Democratic Senate colleagues, including most of the party's women lawmakers in the chamber, pressed him to step down on Wednesday after a fresh allegation hit the news. Politico reported that a congressional aide said Franken had tried to forcibly kiss her in 2006, before he was first elected to the Senate. Franken denied the allegations, Politico reported.

If Franken leaves, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, a fellow Democrat, would appoint someone to take his place, meaning Democrats do not risk losing the seat for now. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate.

Politico reported that Dayton was expected to appoint Democratic Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith to the position if Franken resigned. She would hold the seat until a special election in 2018.

Pressure built throughout the day on Wednesday for Franken to step down.

RELATED: Al Franken through the years

29 PHOTOS
Al Franken through the years
See Gallery
Al Franken through the years
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 1: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote on the nomination of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, on Capitol Hill, February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Sessions was approved by the committee in an 11 to 9 vote. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Bumble Bee Al Franken (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Al Franken during 'The Franken and Davis Show' skit on October 21, 1978 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 19: Al Franken attends City Fair Benefit for Cystic Fibrosis on June 19, 1983 at Bloomingdale's in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Backstage with Al Franken at the Shadow Convention. (Photo by Rebecca D'Angelo/Sygma via Getty Images)
Actor Al Franken relaxing at Kaufman Astoria Studios. (Photo by James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28: Al Franken attends the New York Friars Club Roast September 28, 2002 in New York City. The black-tie annual event was held in honor of Chevy Chase at the New York Hilton. (Photo by Graham Morrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 21: Al Franken's new book 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right' is seen August 21, 2003 in New York City. Fox News is suing the Franken and publisher Penguin arguing that the book's use of the phrase 'Fair and Balanced' is a trademark infringement. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
BOSTON - JULY 28: Political humorist Al Franken does a television interview on the floor of the FleetCenter on the third day of the Democratic National Convention July 28, 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts. Under heavy security, Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) is expected to accept his party's nomination later in the week. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Al Franken of the Air America Network reporting on the floor of the Republican National Convention during the second night at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images)
Al Franken at Earth to America! which airs on TBS Sunday, November 20 at 8 p.m. 10423MC_16017.JPG (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage for Temp Account)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 25: Comedian and talk show host Al Franken was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the Human Rights Campaign's Gala Dinner at the Century Plaza Hotel on March 25, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Actor and comedian Al Franken waves flag May 9, 2006, prior to his lecture at the 92nd Street Y in New York, NY. (Photo by Tim Boxer/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN -OCTOBER 21: U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken wave to the crowd at a rally October 21, 2008 at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Clinton told the crowd of more than 2,000 that Franken needs to win in order secure the 60 Senate seats needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. (Photo by Cory Ryan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 21: Minnesota Democratic senate hopeful Al Franken is shown at a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on January 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Franken and his opponent, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), who held a slender lead following the election, are currently locked in a legal battle over a recount that put Franken ahead by 225 votes out of 2.9 million cast. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 07: US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) (R) hugs a friend during a swearing in reenactment ceremony on Capitol Hill July 6, 2009 in Washington, DC. Last month a Minnesota court ruled that Al Franken won the Minnesota senate seat beating out Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 13, 2009 in Washington, DC. Sotomayor, now an appeals court judge and US President Barack Obama?s first Supreme Court nominee, will become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court if confirmed. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, listens to testimony on medical debt and bankruptcy before the US Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, October 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Minnesota Senator Al Franken works on his laptop in Washington DC. (Photo by Owen Franken/Corbis via Getty Images)
Democratic US Senator for Minnesota Al Franken in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 23: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens to testimony from Melodee Hanes, acting administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, at a Senate Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee hearing on Protecting Our Children: The Importance of Training Child Protection Professionals.' (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 11: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks during a women's pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 4: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks at a news conference to discuss the Affordable Care Act case being heard at the Supreme Court, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 4, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Today the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of King v. Burwell that could determine the fate of health care subsidies for as many as eight million people. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - JULY 8: Senator Al Franken during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Going Dark and data encryption in Washington, USA on JULY 8, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: United States Senator Al Franken attends the 2016 Writers Guild Awards New York ceremony at The Edison Ballroom on February 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 07: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is interviewed by Roll Call in his Capitol hideaway about his upcoming Jeopardy appearance, April, 07, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 9: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) speaks to reporters at a news conference dubbed #WeThePeople outside the Capitol on June 9, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Senate Democrats unveiled a new legislative proposal that will reform campaign finances and ensure fairer elections. (Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images)
US Senator Al Franken gestures during Day 1 of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called him immediately after the Politico story with the latest allegation of misconduct was published and told him that he needed to relinquish his Senate seat, a person familiar with the events said. Schumer also had a meeting at his apartment with Franken and his wife urging him to step down.

Franken apologized for his behavior after earlier accusations and said he would cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation. Reuters has not independently verified the claims against him.

Democrats are seeking to set the example in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations against several public figures, including Republican Roy Moore of Alabama, who is running for the Senate, and Democratic Representative John Conyers, who resigned on Tuesday. Both of those men have denied the accusations against them.

(Editing by Michael Perry)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.