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Al Franken resigns from Senate amid sexual misconduct claims

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced Thursday that he would resign from the Senate amid allegations of sexual misconduct and dwindling support within his own party.

Franken did not give a timeline for his resignation during a speech on the Senate floor, saying only that he woul be stepping down in the coming weeks.

A majority of the Senate’s Democrats had 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.

“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.”

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

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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