Doug Barrett | Dec 7, 2017 AT 12:57 pm
Democratic senators, staff and family members were somber yet emotional as they watched Minnesota Sen. Al Franken say he would resign.
Franken's family members sat in the Senate gallery, some of them crying. Staff lined up in the back of the chamber, stone faced. And around 18 Democratic senators quietly listened to his speech on the floor. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was also there.
Democrats who sat and listened to Franken's speech included Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first to call Wednesday for Franken to resign.
Franken was facing multiple sexual misconduct allegations. After his 11 minute speech, Democrats lined up to hug him.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken says he'll resign in the coming weeks. He's repeatedly apologized as several women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior, and as his support from fellow Democrats evaporated.
The Minnesota lawmaker took to the Senate floor to say, "I may be resigning my seat, but I am not giving up my voice." He says he'll addressing issues as an activist.
Franken says he can't go through a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and effectively represent his state at the same time.
In remarks that lasted 11 minutes, he said that, thanks to his family, "I'm going to be just fine."
He says some charges against him are untrue and that he remembers other differently than his accusers do. But he says women "deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously."
A sampling of reaction to U.S. Sen. Al Franken's announcement Thursday that he will resign:
Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. - "I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time. In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, 'A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.' He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota."
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, D-Minn. - "On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts. I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else."
Sen. Any Klobuchar, D-Minn. - "In every workplace in America, including the U.S. Senate, we must confront the challenges of harassment and misconduct. Nothing is easy or pleasant about this, but we all must recognize that our workplace cultures - and the way we treat each other as human beings - must change."
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn. - "Senator Al Franken has been more than a colleague - he has been a friend and an ally on the issues that are most important to Minnesota families. Al's voice and vote were instrumental in extending health care to millions of Americans, helping our students succeed, and upholding our commitments to tribal nations."
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee - "Sen. Franken's decision to resign shows a strength of character that other elected officials haven't."
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn. - "The behavior described in these continued allegations is out of line and unacceptable. Senator Franken is making the right choice by resigning."
U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D.-Minn. - "Senator Franken has determined that he can no longer effectively represent the people of Minnesota. He has done the right thing for Minnesota and our Nation by stepping down."
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn. - "Elected officials hold the trust of the constituents they represent, and it is crucial we cherish and honor that trust. I am hopeful this will move our society towards better behavior."
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. - "I have served with Senator Franken for eight years in the U.S. Congress and he has accomplished a lot of good for Minnesotans. But I believe the pattern of his behavior is unacceptable and his ability to continue to effectively serve Minnesotans has been irreparably compromised."