DEVELOPING: Calling it “the worst day of his political life,” Sen. Al Franken said Thursday he will resign from the U.S. Senate following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against him.
It was very quiet. You could hear a pin drop — a stark contrast from the normal bustle of the room.
CNN counted 22 Democrats in their seats, plus Franken. Most of them turned their seats to face him and listen.
Among them were nine women, including many of those who first called on him to resign — Sens. Gillibrand, McCaskill, Baldwin, Warren, Hassan.
Franken: “Even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it”
Speaking about his career in the Senate, Al Franken said that “it’s all been worth it” and that he “would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
“I did not grow up wanting to be a politician. I came to this relatively late in life. I had to learn a lot on the fly. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always fun. I’m not just talking about today. This is a hard thing to do with your life,” he said.
“There will be days when you will wonder whether it’s worth it. Even today, even on the worst day of my political life, I feel like it’s all been worth it,” Franken said.
Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008.
Franken: “I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office”
While speaking about his own resignation, Sen. Franken brought up President Trump and the Access Hollywood tape and his support of GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of sexual abuse.
“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 repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party. But this decision is not about me. It’s about the people of Minnesota,” Franken said.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 7, 2017
It will be up to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to appoint a successor.
Multiple sources reported that the likely candidate could be Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, a close ally of Franken. Any successor, if he steps down, would serve until a special election is held in 2018 to determine who would fill the final two years of Franken’s term.
WATCH: Sen. Al Franken speaks on Senate floor amid sexual misconduct allegations
Franken’s political career has been in peril since California radio broadcaster Leeann Tweeden posted a blog detailing how he kissed and groped her without her consent in 2006. She also tweeted a picture showing a grinning Franken standing over her as she sleeps, his hands over her breasts.
Franken has since apologized, but other allegations from seven additional women have surfaced since Tweeden’s claims.
The latest was a woman who claimed she was groped at a Media Matters party during the first Obama inauguration.
Before that, another woman accused Franken of forcibly trying to kiss her – this time after a taping of his radio show in 2006.
The woman, who spoke to Politico, claims Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her things. The woman was in her 20s at the time.
The accuser, who was not identified, said Franken tried to kiss her but that she ducked.
Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” performer who was a host on the now-defunct “Air America” radio network at the time, allegedly followed up by telling her it was his “right as an entertainer.”
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me,” she told Politico. “It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked.”
Franken has strongly denied those allegations.
The calls for Franken to step down came one day after Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., retired following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
In Alabama, several women have accused Senate Republican candidate, Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, when they were in their teens, including one who said she was 14 when Moore molested her.
Moore denies the allegations.
President Trump – who had multiple allegations of sexual harassment against himself when running for president – has endorsed Moore.
The Republican National Committee is also supporting him.
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