Women Democratic senators had been talking behind the scenes for at least the past week about how to deal with Franken, multiple aides told CNN. But those talks reached a tipping point Wednesday morning, they said, when Politico published a report at 9 a.m. ET of another woman alleging that Franken touched her inappropriately in 2006, before he was elected to office.
The story prompted a flurry of calls and texts between Senate offices within minutes, and it was decided sometime between then and about 10:30 a.m. ET that the women senators would go public in a show of unity with their desire for Franken to step aside.
Franken was given a heads up about what was coming, according to an aide to one of the women senators.
“While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve,” Gillibrand wrote in a 650-word statement.
Her statement came a day after Gillibrand, who’s frequently cited as a potential candidate for president in 2020, struggled publicly to answer direct questions about whether Franken should resign.
Close to noon, their male Democratic colleagues started to weigh in, beginning with Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, saying on Twitter he agreed with his colleagues that Franken should step down.
By the time this story published, the number of Democrats wanting Franken to resign had swelled to 28.
“Wanted to let you know that Senator Franken will be making an announcement tomorrow,” the email said.