Seven Democratic senators, some of the highest-ranking women on Capitol Hill, have called on Senator Al Franken to resign following another allegation of sexual harassment that surfaced earlier this week.
According to a report by Politico, a former congressional aide for the Democratic Party had alleged that three years before Franken became a senator he attempted to kiss her without her consent after she had attended a taping of the politician’s — who was an actor at the time — former radio show.
This brings the total to seven women who have thus far accused Senator Franken of sexual harassment.
In response to the latest allegation, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York issued a statement on Facebook in which she said that she was “shocked” and “disappointed” by the increasing allegations against Franken.
“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.”
Gillibrand was joined by six other female senators — Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin — as they urged their male colleague to resign.
Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania later added his name to the resignation request.
According to the Washington Post, if Franken decides to resign, it would make him the second member of Congress to step down in the wake of a deluge of sexual harassment accusations that are surfacing as part of a global campaign to empower victims to speak out. Representative John Conyers Jr., also a Democrat, resigned earlier this week after it was alleged that he had been inappropriately touching his female aides.
The Democratic Party’s female senators have reportedly been discussing ways to respond to Franken for a number of days. A Senate aide that had been privy to the deliberations told the Post that “people were at the edge of their patience with this. They’d had enough. One more allegation was going to be it.”
The most recent allegation of sexual harassment against Senator Franken was brought by a former staffer who explained that she was in the process of gathering her belongings when she was confronted by the former actor.
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked.”
She goes on to say that she was so shocked by the interaction that she “booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.'”
As reported by Politico, two of the former aide’s colleagues have corroborated her version of events, confirming that Franken did, in fact, say that it was his right to kiss her because he was “an entertainer.”
Senator Franken, meanwhile, has denied all accusations that he intentionally touched women inappropriately but has nonetheless issued multiple apologies.
“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”
According to a tweet from the Associated Press Twitter account, Senator Franken will issue a statement on Thursday.
BREAKING: Faced with multiple calls to resign, Democratic Sen. Al Franken's office says he will have an announcement on Thursday.— The Associated Press (@AP) December 6, 2017