Al Franken has announced his resignation from the US Senate, becoming the country’s highest-profile politician to step down in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.
Mr Franken addressed the Senate from the floor to announce his decision this afternoon, saying he will step down “in the coming weeks”.
He said: “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator – nothing – has brought dishonour 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.
“All women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously.”
Mr Franken’s announcement came as a former staff member – the seventh woman to raise allegations against him – claimed that he forcibly kissed her 11 years ago.
Thirty-five of his Democratic Senate colleagues had called for his resignation.
Mr Franken, a former Saturday Night Live comedian, reinvented himself as an influential and popular figure in the Democratic Party, winning election as a Minnesota senator in 2008 and 2014.
Addressing the Senate, he also took the opportunity to criticise US President Donald Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore over accusations made against them.
“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,” he said, according to Time magazine.
“But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota.”
Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ Senate leader, said in a statement: “I consider Senator 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.”