Reed, Whitehouse call on Franken to resign

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island’s two Democratic U.S. senators joined dozens of their colleagues Wednesday in calling on fellow Democrat Al Franken to resign, saying the growing number of sexual-harassment allegations against him have made his position untenable.

Franken, a Minnesota senator and former comedian, has faced a parade of accusations in recent weeks from women who accused him of sexual misconduct. More came forward Wednesday, and Franken’s office said he will make an announcement Thursday that some think could be his resignation.

Reed spoke out first, issuing a statement just after 3 p.m. “I think Senator Franken should resign,” he said.

“The accumulating accusations and acknowledgment that inappropriate behavior took place cannot be countenanced,” Reed continued. “Sexual harassment must not be tolerated and this is part of a larger national discussion that is long overdue and must lead to fundamental change and lasting progress.”

Whitehouse’s statement was released one minute after Reed’s, and was far briefer. “Given what we have learned in recent weeks, I expect Senator Franken to step aside,” he said.

By the time Reed and Whitehouse spoke out, roughly half the Senate Democratic caucus had already called on Franken to resign, led by a number of female senators. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also said Franken should resign.

State Rep. Bobby Nardolillo, a Republican challenging Whitehouse in 2018, criticized him for not urging Franken’s resignation sooner and for doing so after Reed had already issued a statement. He also said he himself thinks Franken should resign.

Nardolillo has previously said Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who has been accused of inappropriate sexual involvement with underage girls, should quit that race, too, though he has not said whether he supports expelling Moore form the Senate should he win next week’s special election there.

Robert Flanders, another Republican challenging Whitehouse, argued earlier in the day he had taken too long to break with Franken. “Remaining silent speaks volumes,” Flanders said. He also urged Whitehouse to return $15,000 in campaign donations he has received from Franken’s political action committee over the years.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook