WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — Several Democrats in the United States Senate, including both Massachusetts senators and New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, are now calling on Sen. Al Franken to resign after a new sexual misconduct accusation.
Franken on Wednesday denied a claim from a former Democratic congressional aide that he tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006.
The Minnesota Democrat said in a statement that the allegation, reported by Politico, was “categorically not true.”
The woman, who was not identified by name, said Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said she ducked to avoid his lips, and that Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”
Franken, in his statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right as an entertainer was “preposterous.”
Hassan and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts join more than a dozen Democratic senators, led by female lawmakers, calling for Franken to resign.
“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women, and he should resign,” Hassan said in a statement. “We are experiencing a sea change in our culture that is long overdue, and we must continue working to empower all women and do everything we can to prevent sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has not yet publicly said Franken needs to step down. But an aide to Warren confirms a Boston Globe report that she told Franken privately that he should resign.
Franken’s office said the senator will be making an announcement on Thursday.
He is facing a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into previous claims by several other women that he groped them or sought to forcibly kiss them.
“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” Franken said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”
The allegations against Franken began in mid-November when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour.
Several other allegations have followed, including a woman who says that Franken put his hand on her buttocks during a picture pose at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two women, who asked to remain anonymous, have told the Huffington Post that Franken squeezed their buttocks at political events during his first campaign for the Senate in 2008. A fourth woman, an Army veteran, alleged Franken cupped her breast during a photo op on a USO tour in 2003.
Franken has apologized for his behavior but he has disputed some of the allegations.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)