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Al Franken resigns after sexual misconduct allegations pile up

Alex Brandon  AP FILESen. Al Franken listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Sept. 20 2017 in Washington

The comedian turned senator made the announcement from the Senate floor Thursday, ending weeks of speculation over whether he could remain in the seat following accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.

Hours later, another woman said Mr Franken inappropriately squeezed "a handful of flesh" on her waist while posing for a photo with her in 2009. "I was shocked. I was upset". "All women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously", he added before flatly denying the allegations against him. His apologies toward numerous accusers, he said, might have given the "false impression" that he was admitting wrongdoing.

But they had lost patience with the growing tally of allegations and paved the path for Mr Franken's exit.

Franken is the latest powerful man to fall from grace after the #MeToo movement encouraged women to come forward with their stories of sexual misconduct.

Franken's resignation comes a day after many of his fellow Democratic senators - including New York's Kristen Gillibrand, California's Kamala Harris, Ohio's Sherrod Brown and Missouri's Claire McCaskill - called upon Franken to step down from his role on Wednesday.

"I'm disappointed with my friend Leeann Tweedon (sic)", Arnold wrote on Twitter, alleging her partner at radio station KABC, John Phillips, and political lobbyist Roger Stone "coached her for weeks to bring Al Franken down..."

"I, of 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 Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party", Franken said, seconds after announcing his resignation.

He said that Gillibrand "gave cover" to those accused of sexual misconduct when it was "convenient", noting claims by Juanita Broaddrick that the former president raped her. "We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person". "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". The allegations against Sen. "Franken's behavior", said Sen. "While he's entitled to an Ethics Committee hearing, I believe he should step aside to let someone else serve". Several Democratic senators, including those who had called for his resignation, lined up to shake his hand and hug him. "Everyone must share the responsibility of building a culture of trust and respect for women in every industry and workplace, and that includes our party". Dayton said he will announce his choice within days. "The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories".