US Democratic Senator Al Franken, accused of misbehaving by women several years ago, announced his resignation Thursday after three weeks of a political storm that most of his fellow Democrats have called for. leave the Senate.
“I know, deep in my heart, that I did not do anything to dishonor this institution,” he said, bitterly, in a speech delivered since the hemicycle. “However, I am announcing today that in the coming weeks, I will resign from the Senate”.
“I am aware that it is ironic that I am leaving while a man who was recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women occupies the Oval Office,” he added.
Many elected and elected officials believe that the American Congress is at a pivotal moment, a point in history where everyone must, without any ambiguity, adopt a policy of zero tolerance towards any inappropriate behavior, let alone the harassment or sexual assault.
This prompted Wednesday, in less than 24 hours, 32 of the 48 Democrats and Related Senate to call Al Franken, 66, to resign. A movement launched by a group of women senators after a seventh testimony.
“We are experiencing a huge cultural change,” 84-year-old Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told AFP. “Women’s fear of talking years ago no longer exists, women will testify, it’s like a new year for women.”
“Our country has crossed the Rubicon,” said Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic Opposition in the House, who was the first woman president from 2007 to 2010.
Congress has long been a macho institution. Today, women still represent only 20% of parliamentarians. But twenty years ago, they were only 12%, and thirty years ago, 5%.
It was the institution that saved Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky case, and virulently interrogated Anita Hill in 1991, who accused Clarence Thomas, who was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he still sits, of sexual harassment. Many elected officials want to believe that these votes would be different if they were held today.
– Unequal treatment –
Before being elected to the Senate in 2008, Al Franken was one of the stars of the cult TV show Saturday Night Live in the 1970s and 1980s, before continuing his career as a comedian, scriptwriter and radio host. It is in these habits of clown that in 2006 he tried to force kiss one of his partners on stage, during a tour with US troops abroad. But it was as a senator that he was accused of inappropriate gestures on several women during photos.
Out of respect for his accusers, he explained, Al Franken did not dispute most of the allegations against him, although he said “to have different memories for some” and denied some of them. .
The senator was very popular until this affair, having passed his transition from comic to applied parliamentarian, recently author of a bestselling book including Donald Trump.
He has increased acts of contrition for three weeks and has agreed to cooperate with the Ethics Committee of the Senate, supposed to handle such cases and recommend sanctions up to exclusion.
Finally, his colleagues did not want to wait for the conclusion of this procedure.
This prompted questions about safeguards in the event of allegations against elected officials, and the legitimacy of universal suffrage.
Another Democrat, Dean of the House John Conyers, resigned Tuesday, at age 88. Unlike Al Franken, he was accused of repeated sexual harassment of female collaborators.
Democrats are cautious and avoid openly politicizing these cases.
But, as Al Franken pointed out in his opening speech, some note that Republicans support a president accused of sexual assault by multiple women, and are about to elect, in Alabama, a senator accused of much worse, touching on minors in the 1970s, Roy Moore.
“Al Franken has recognized the pain he has inflicted,” said Thursday Tim Kaine, former candidate for the vice presidency. “Roy Moore refused to do it, in a way it’s worse.”