WASHINGTON — Support for Al Franken all but collapsed Wednesday among his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, with dozens calling for him to resign after a sixth woman said he had made an improper advance on her.
“Sen. Franken should resign,” Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said Wednesday evening, the latest in an avalanche of statements that began with a half-dozen Democratic women and then snowballed throughout the day. “I consider Sen. Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately.”
Franken, D-Minn., has scheduled an announcement on his future in the Senate for Thursday, and he pushed back on a Minnesota Public Radio report that he would be resigning. “No final decision has been made and the Senator is still talking with his family,” his office said on Twitter.
By Wednesday evening, there was widespread expectation among senators in the Democratic caucus and aides that Franken would step down. If he does, he would be the most prominent lawmaker so far to be felled by the swirling allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct sweeping through the Capitol.
On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest-serving member of the House and the longest-serving African-American congressman in history, stepped down under severe pressure after multiple women said he had harassed them, including one who said she was fired for refusing to have sex with him.
A freshman Democrat, Rep. Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, has faced calls for his resignation since charges emerged Friday that he had repeatedly propositioned his former campaign finance director.
Accusations against Franken include an episode of forcible kissing on a USO tour before he was elected and several allegations that he groped women as he posed with them for photographs.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, also called on Wednesday for Franken to leave the Senate.
But by and large, Republicans have seemed more tolerant of infractions in their own ranks.
House leaders have said nothing since it was revealed Friday that Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas used $84,000 from a secret taxpayer fund to settle a lurid sexual harassment case filed against him. And Republicans are deeply divided over Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexually assaulting teenage girls as young as 14, yet has maintained the support of President Donald Trump and other conservatives.