Transcript for Sen. Al Franken announces resignation amid sexual misconduct allegations
Hi everyone on an about your continuing coverage now the breaking news we all just watched unfold democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Has announced he will resign from the US senate in the coming weeks. Amid multiple accusations of sexual misconduct in a growing chorus. Among his own senate colleagues to do just back. Let's go live now to Washington DC my colleagues Rick Klein ABC's political director and Mary Alice parks for watching out Franken statement from down there. Rick let's just start with this what sort of stood out to you about the wave Franken chose to make that announcement just now. He was not contrite really all taxing he felt like it Weathers these accusations. I think it was more than not to the cultural moment in re recognizing. He could not do his job effectively as a result of this. I think also the timing of this interesting fact that he's not stepping down immediately means that Democrats lots of time to get ups and wrote he also stays in the senate during critical time. A whole bunch of votes coming up later this week in this month. A government funding it taxes and and the like. I also think there was one line in there were. He referenced that the Minnesota deserves this and it can. Who could apply all of her energy and I think that was not the governor Dayton about who teaches black but more broadly. That's and he was the close as they need to contrition but to me. This was Al Franken saying I'm going away a point where quietly. Let's go over to capital for just the second hour chief congressional correspondent Mary Bruce. Is there with us now Mary of one of the things people are going to be wondering as they watched that announcement can hear the news. Is wind now the allegations about has he been out there for a number of months now at least two so what happened that led to this announcement today. Well for for weeks Democrats have argued that that they should be handled through the regular process here that the should go through an ethics investigation Franken himself. Was saying that he was willing to comply with all of that but the allegations have simply been piling up yesterday morning after we saw yet another anonymous accuser come out of small group of women senators here said you know what enough is enough. And we saw this really cool warden needed push that forced open. The flood gates really and forced other senators to have to go on the record as well and in the span of less than 24 hours now 39 senators. The majority of Democrats saying they agree that Franken had to go including the democratic leader Chuck Schumer who is incredibly close with Al Franken something of a mentor. Do men appear on the hill he too behind the scenes was. Trying desperately to urged Franken to step aside and you cannot ignore the overarching. Move made here but also be political climate which is of course. Roy Moore and there is a more effect here Democrats. Our are going to try it seems to seize the moral high ground here and in order to do that I think they need to show that it that they have dealt with. These instances where there own lawmakers their own congressman and senators have been accused of this kind of behavior and you are also seeing of course that big push up here. From from many Democrats and some Republicans to change the way that these. Kinds of accusations are handled to increase transparency and accountability here on the hill when it comes to how. Staffers and others may bring forward these kinds of issues. And Jon Karl our chief White House correspondent down there in DC reports Al Franken is a Democrat but he used his speech down there it's take a swing. At a couple of Republicans out while he was talking I want to play. One quick bit of sound for you and then just get to take on the back and here's a set quick excerpt from Al Franken speech on the senate floor just moments ago. But I know who I really. Serving and the United States senate has been a great honor of my life. I know in my heart that. Nothing I have done as a senator. Nothing. As brought this honor on him. On this institution. And I am confident. That the ethics committee would agree. Nevertheless today I am announcing. That in the coming weeks. I will be resigning as a member of the United States senate. I have all people am aware that there is some irony. In the fact that I am leaving. While a man who has bragged on tape. About his history of sexual assault sits in the noble well office. And the man who is repeatedly preyed on young girls. Campaigns for the senate. We'll look with the full support of his party. Him to resign came from both sides of the aisle. But this step today announcing that he would resign before there's any kind of investigation. Didn't think it more difficult for Republicans who face similar accusations. Can not step down. I think Republicans are a tough spot anyway regarding Roy Moore so many of them are on the record saying that his behavior. Simply unacceptable that he's not fit for the United States senate but what was striking. In listening to senator Franken. Is his firm conviction is firm belief is firm statement. Odd that he does not believe that he did anything wrong. Certainly not while he was the United States senator. And even casting doubt on on any of the allegations against him saying most of them are simply not true. And date those that did work whether we're there may be some truth he wreckage he recollection of much different way so. In frank gives view and you can hear it it is voice. As well as in these words from the tone of his voice his form view is they walk he is forced to resign. Somebody who is guilty. It was a far worse than anything that he has even been accused of sits in the Oval Office and may well. Another person it will be elected to the United States senate with the full support of his Republican colleagues but I. I I do believe. ID if Roy Moore in fact wins that senate race next Tuesday. There will be a major push. 22 taken before the senate ethics committee. Mitch McConnell still saying that that something that he would face and a very tough very tough vote for Republicans to take. Whether or not to throw him out. After the voters of Alabama have elected him fully aware of the charges against him or whether or not to allow someone to serve in the senate that's been accused. Of sexual misconduct toward underage girls. Mary Alice parks over in the DC bureau Jon Karl raises a really good point there that act the beginning of his remarks senator Franken. Basically said look of all the allegations some of them are simply not true and of others I just remember than differently there wasn't. A single sentence in his statement there they gave any sort of solids or apology or admission of any wrongdoing to any of the eight women who've accused him. Not at all and he struggled because he wanted to give voice and some way to the movement he said that. He believed this conversation across the country taking place. Was a good thing an exciting thing that he hoped it would spur change a cultural change vote on Capitol Hill and businesses. I think he really was was struggling to in some way say he wanted to believe women that he wanted to champion women. But when he came to himself and accusations against him you're exactly right no admission no acknowledgment that he'd done something wrong. And Jon Karl this larger sort of cultural reckoning that is obviously going on we've seen men in positions of power across a number of industries. Immediately taken down because of either the wave of allegations or the proof that the allegations are just this year said the thirty. The allegations but for the most part many position of power that in politics have been immune. To much of this do you think that the steps taken by representative John Conyers and senator Franken does that change the equation in Washington. Well it was it was a it was a first we saw it we saw two. Significant figures in the Democratic Party actually now. Resigning. You know John Conyers being one of the longest serving. Members of congress in American history. One of the most powerful democratic members. Of the house also by the way somebody. Emphatically. Denying. The charges against him. But forced to resign because he simply had no further base of political support the leadership in his own party telling him he had to resign. And Al Franken hunt as powerful or longstanding a figure as John Conyers but. A Democrat of significant standing somebody who would even been talked about as a potential presidential candidate in two point eight when he. Again denying the charges against him but. Forced to resign because he simply. Had lost the support of his own party. I mean now that that the big question is going to be what happens with the Republicans and I think that that's not an accident the republic I think that. That the Democrats will what will make this contrast that will make it aggressively. What happens to the Republican stampede president of the United States who has been accused of sexual misconduct. Towards. A long list of women somebody who said what he said on that Access Hollywood tape. Is he going to be held to account and what happens with their senate candidate now is the support of the RNC. But still does not have the support of many other Republicans in congress what happens appoint more. Actually wins there's elected the United States senate Howard they hold him accountable to bail them. And Mary Bruce over on Capitol Hill it's not just what happened next with Republicans and also we've Democrats. Al Franken there senator frank in not giving a timeline exactly about weighing he will resign but. If he leaves what happens to these seats. Well it if he does leave in the coming weeks as he said he would will that the governor has to appoint someone to fill that seat and it does. From sources that that we've talked with seen that it's likely. That that lieutenant governor might be top candidate here he did hear Al Franken mentioned her. When discussing someone may replace its seat perhaps and not in that direction. But to the point that John Carl was getting out just such an important one right this now becomes. A huge question for for. Republicans going for Iraq's and it jumped downstairs journeyman and tried talked with some of those Republicans because the question for them will be if you thought Al Franken had to go what about growing more. It is there a double standard here if you feel that frank and behavior was somehow disqualified while more is elected what next. And many of sent what the ethics committee should handle that but clearly. By coming out so forcefully against Franken and quite frankly against congressman Conyers who resigned earlier in the week. Democrats have now set something of a precedent and it will be up to Republicans to see if there are going to hold themselves to that same kind of standard. And it of course comes as we've seen is remarkable shift. In the Republican Party leaders and others who originally. You know called for or more to ago and now now saying it's up to the people of Alabama but once he gets here all the people in these halls. And Rick Klein. Big picture here now look obviously all allegations. Sexual misconduct or assault are not equal the air we're talking about a range of accusations and a range of allegations. Across all these people come on Capitol Hill but I'm curious what you think. About how this is handled moving forward now does this become sort of a battle for the moral high ground. I think it's a battle the moral high we're no one looks particularly high and that's the problem we have with trying to hash this out. You mention every case is is is not created equal I think that's an important piece context. I also think the it's important that the accountability here is not meted out in equal measure and suffering consequences for bad behavior I think it looking agree with that. But it but it's not clear what you do when talking about elected officials they sat general accountability standards. And it's going to be up to individuals so I think the Democrats are put out a new more clear precedent. They hope is followed but they don't have control over that as the last couple of weeks Hampshire don't you don't get to control how it duly elected member of congress. I'd handles him or herself. And in in the case of Roy Moore Republicans tried to get him out another round leaned back behind him so. It still going to be. One by one a case by case but I think what's going on here is Democrats trying to do two things one is demonstrate some clarity and we have a problem our rights we take care and secondly. Recognized to the broader public that's having this discussion at home we get it. We are part of this meat to movement it has the means oss is well and I think that's the demonstration you're seeing maybe more powerfully. Rob partisan lines is that recognition that this is not happening vacuum when you're talking about powerful men in powerful positions abusing that power. The merry Alfredsson also trimming you look at it whatever moral authority or standard is being fat here by people in the highest office is. Of the land when it comes down to as Rick says case by case you know you look at the election and that Roy Moore. Is running in and coming up next week now it's going to be up to the voters to decide whether or not these kinds of things really matter to them or. Absolutely going to be up to the voters in Alabama out voters. Across the country will need to decide whether they believe the women many allegations come up in in future campaigns whether day. Are willing to accept admissions and apologies when those come up down the road. I think at some point out like any large institution Capitol Hill is going to have to develop. Some process needs and some procedures for handling best that's been a big part of this conversation. That staff and insurance felt like need to. Have a way to to talk about issues of harassment did have and have an avenue for recourse. And and it they're either going to have to find a way to. To whether it is actually going through with an ethics investigation. For of systems that they that they put in place to help people that felt victimized we are going to see I'm sure capital held really. Putting out procedures. In place on the books because while things will be done a case by case basis I agree with that I can't just be ad hoc. Here on out. Mary ounce. Parks recline live Nikki he beer out thanks pat good to talk to you thanks thanks on the thanks also to John Carlin recruits for joining us earlier thanks to you for watching as well head over to abcnews.com and get the latest. On today's breaking news senator Al Franken of Minnesota announcing he will resign from the US senate in the coming weeks. Download the ABC news apt get all the breaking news right to your phone for now. 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