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Al Franken, Trent Franks resigns amid sexual harassment allegations

Washington: Senator Al Franken, has announced he will resign "in the coming weeks" after his support among Democrats crumbled, becoming the highest-profile casualty in the growing list of lawmakers felled by charges of sexual harassment or indiscretions.

"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," Franken said as he announced his resignation in the Senate on Thursday, local time.

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US Senator Al Franken announces resignation

Minnesota Senator Al Franken has said that he will resign in coming weeks, with his announcement following several women accusing him of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

The same day, Republican US Representative Trent Franks said he would resign after two female staffers complained that he had discussed surrogacy with them.

Numerous prominent men in US politics, media and entertainment have been accused in recent months of sexual harassment and misconduct.

In Franken's case, nearly all of the Senate's Democratic women - and most Democratic men, including the Senate's top two Democrats - called for him to resign after a sixth woman came forward to charge that he had made an improper advance on her.

"Enough is enough," declared New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said.

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The accusations against Franken include an episode of forcible kissing on a United Services Organisation  entertainment tour for US troops before he was elected and several allegations that he groped women as he posed with them for photographs.

In his address, Franken said that, when the movement of women speaking out about harassment started in October, he was "excited" to be part of the conversation.

Excitement then turned to horror when he became the allegations turned to him, he said.

Despite maintaining that many of the claims against him were "simply untrue", he said he would resign.

"This decision is not about me," he said. "It is about the people of Minnesota."

Over the last three weeks, Franken has repeatedly apologised for his behaviour, although he has also challenged some of the accusations of impropriety lodged against him. Until Wednesday, he had said he would remain in his job and work with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of his case.

But his Democratic colleagues in the Senate made clear on Wednesday that his apologies and admissions were not enough.

Republican congressman Franks, 60, who has been a member of Congress from Arizona since 2003, said in a statement that he would step down on January 31.

The House Ethics Committee announced on Thursday that it had opened an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against Franks.

The congressman said he was resigning because coverage of the committee's investigation in the "current cultural and media climate" would "damage those things I love most."

Franks said he and his wife had struggled with infertility and sought a surrogate in order to have another child after they had twins with a surrogate.

"I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable," Franks said.

"I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress," he said.

Franks, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, represents Arizona's 8th Congressional District, a mainly suburban area of Phoenix. He won re-election in 2016 with 68.5 per cent of the vote.

If Franks steps down, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey would call a special election to fill the seat.

The New York Times, Reuters