At least seven women in the Senate Democratic caucus, including potential 2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, called on Sen. Al Franken to resign hours after a seventh woman came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.
Following the calls for his resignation, Franken’s office said he would make an “announcement” on Thursday. The office did not say what the nature of the announcement would be.
Gillibrand was the first to release a statement calling for Franken to step down, according to The Hill, followed by Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, Patty Murray of Washington, Kamala Harris of California and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.
They were joined by male senators and Democratic leaders: Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, as well as Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“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 said in a statement.
Seven woman have come forward to accuse Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who is Jewish, of touching them inappropriately during photo opportunities and campaign events. The accusations date from between 2003 and 2010.
The latest accusation, reported Wednesday morning on Politico, comes from an unnamed former Democratic congressional aide who said Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.
Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, apologized earlier this month to Leeann Tweeden, now a Los Angeles radio host, who said he forcibly kissed and groped her during a 2006 tour. Tweeden released a photo showing Franken posing with his hands on her chest as she naps wearing a flak vest aboard a military plane.
Three other women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate campaign events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
Franken has joined leaders of both parties in the Senate in asking for an ethics investigation against him. The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday opened a preliminary investigation into the accusations against Franken.
The accusations are the latest in a flood that has roiled the worlds of entertainment, politics and the media since last month, when dozens of women alleged that Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein harassed and in some cases assaulted them.