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Posted: December 13, 2017

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken's Senate seat

WATCH: Senator Al Franken Resigns from Senate

By Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

MINNEAPOLIS —

Updated 1:02 p.m. ET Dec. 13: Sen. Al Franken said Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith “will make an excellent United States Senator” after she was announced Wednesday as the Democratic congressman’s replacement.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named Smith as Franken’s replacement after the senator announced his intention to resign. He has not set a date for his resignation. Dayton said Wednesday that Smith will serve a one-year term ending in January 2019.

Franken said Smith, who became lieutenant governor in 2015, will “be an effective senator who knows how to work across party lines to get things done for Minnesota.”

“I look forward to working with her on ensuring a speedy and seamless transition,” he said.

Updated 11:07 a.m. ET Dec. 13: Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announced Wednesday that the state’s lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, will fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Al Franken.

Franken announced his intent to resign earlier this month after multiple women came forward to accuse the Democrat of sexual misconduct.

In a statement, officials said Smith will serve a one-year term in the Senate before Minnesotans go to the polls to chose Franken’s replacement.

Original story: Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will be appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat of fellow Democrat Al Franken, the Star Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio are reporting.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Gov. Mark Dayton will announce Smith's appointment at a news conference Wednesday morning, the outlets reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the decision.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Al Franken: What happens to his Senate seat if he resigns?

Both outlets reported that Smith, 59, also will vie for the seat in the November 2018 special election.

The news comes less than one week after Franken announced he'd be resigning amid sexual misconduct allegations.

>> Read more trending news 

From 2003-2006, Smith, a New Mexico native who has lived in Minnesota since 1984, was vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. She also was chief of staff for Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Dayton before becoming lieutenant governor in 2015.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

What You Need To Know About Al Franken


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Aaron Lavinsky/AP

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken's Senate seat, reports say

Aaron Lavinsky/AP

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to fill Al Franken's Senate seat, reports say

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2015 file photo, Minnesota Democratic Lt. Gov. Tina Smith speaks to attendees at the North Star Ball in St. Paul, Minn. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is set to name his choice to replace Al Franken in the U.S. Senate, with the top contender seen as Lt. Gov. Smith. Dayton was expected to make the appointment Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017, nearly a week after Franken announced his plan to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct. (Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP, File)

Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Sen. Al Franken said Thursday that he will resign "in the coming weeks" from his seat in the U.S. Senate amid growing calls for him to step down after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct.

>> Read more trending news

  Al Franken: What happens to his Senate seat if he resigns?
  Congressional investigation launched after sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers
  'Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations
  More women accuse Al Franken of groping, unwanted kissing
  Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

Al Franken: What happens to his Senate seat if he resigns?

Sen. Al Franken, (D-Minn.), will make an announcement on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday as to whether he will resign his seat amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Franken is expected to speak at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Franken has been accused of inappropriate conduct by several women. On Wednesday, more than 20 fellow senators called for Franken to resign.

What happens to his seat if he does? Here’s a look at the process of filling the seat.

Requirements:

A person who would be a senator from Minnesota must:

Be at least 30 years old

Be a resident of Minnesota

Be a U.S. citizen for at least nine years

Who makes the decision on a replacement?

According to state law, Minnesota’s governor is authorized to fill the vacancy if a senator resigns. The governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, can make temporary appointments to fill Senate vacancies, but a special election must be held to fill the seat until the next scheduled election of that seat is held.

When would a special election be held in this case?

In Minnesota, if the seat is vacated at least 11 weeks before a scheduled primary, then a special election must be held the following November. There is a primary set for Aug. 14, 2018, in Minnesota, so that would mean that a special election would have to be held in November 2018 if Franken resigns before May 29, 2018. Minnesota’s other senator, Amy Klobuchar, (D), is up for re-election in that election. 

The winner of the special election would serve out Franken’s term, which ends in January 2021. If that person wants to stay in the seat for the six-year term that begins in January 2021, he or she would have to face re-election in November 2020. 

More women accuse Al Franken of groping, unwanted kissing

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:25 p.m.: Sen. Al Franken is disputing a Minnesota Public Radio report that he is resigning from office during a planned press conference Thursday afternoon. Franken, in a tweet, asked MPR to correct their story.

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2017 5:00 p.m.: Minnesota Public Radio is reporting Sen. Al Franken will resign his Senate seat on Thursday. The news outlet is citing a Democratic official and “key aides” who have talked with Franken.

“The official spoke to Franken and separately to Franken's staff. A staff member told the official that Franken had gone to his Washington home to discuss his plans with family,” MPR reported.

Minnesota Public Radio said it agreed to withhold the official’s name so that Franken can make the announcement himself.

(Previous story)

Two women came forward Wednesday to accuse Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate sexual behavior as calls for his resignation swelled. 

>> Read more trending news

The reports bring the number of allegations made against the Minnesota Democrat to at least eight. Many of the alleged incidents happened before Franken became a senator, although at least two, including one reported Wednesday, were alleged to have happened after he was sworn in.

A former Democratic congressional aide accused Franken of trying to forcibly kiss her in 2006, three years before he was sworn in as a U.S. senator, according to Politico.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010

The aide told the news site that she was getting her things together after a taping of Franken’s radio show in 2006 when she turned to find him in her face.

>> Related: President Trump comments on Senator Franken's groping photo

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. 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,” the aide told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken denied the allegation in a statement to Politico.

>> Related: Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by Army veteran, former elected official

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” he said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

Freelance journalist Tina DuPuy also came forward Wednesday in an article published by The Atlantic. She said Franken groped her during a Media Matters party in 2009, after Obama’s first inauguration.

DuPuy wrote she spotted Franken at the party and asked to take a photo with him because her foster mother was one of his fans.

>> Related: ‘Saturday Night Live' women defend Sen. Al Franken after groping allegations

“We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh,” she wrote. “I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice.”

She wrote that the unwanted grope was demeaning.

“It shrunk me. It’s like I was no longer a person, only ornamental. It said, ‘You don’t matter -- and I do,’” she wrote. “He wanted to cop a feel and he demonstrated he didn’t need my permission.”

>> Related: ‘SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update'

DuPuy wrote that she thought Franken would resign when allegations first surfaced against him last month. Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her and groping her as she slept during a USO tour in 2006.

Franken apologized for the incident, but as the number of women accusing the congressman grew, so did calls for his resignation. A group of female senators, all Democrats, called for Franken's resignation Wednesday, before DuPuy's accusations were published.

>> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent

“It is clear that Al Franken has engaged in a pattern of egregious and unacceptable behavior toward women, and he should resign,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire.

Franken is expected to address the reports at a planned news conference Thursday.

Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

Update 3:15 p.m. Dec. 11: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the allegations levied against President Donald Trump in a news briefing Monday, telling reporters that the president has “addressed these accusations directly and denied all of these allegations.”

"The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward," she said. "This took place long before he was elected to be president and the people of this country had a decisive election."

Original report: At least four women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment called on Monday for a congressional investigation into Trump’s behavior, pointing to recent investigations announced into lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct.

>> Read more trending news

Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne were among the more than a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

In a statement, White House officials dismissed the accusations as false and politically motivated.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct? 

Leeds said she was motivated to speak out again in the wake of recent allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

“In some areas, the accusations of sexual aggression were being taken seriously. People were being held accountable. Except for our president,” Leeds said. “In fact, his staff made a big point of calling us all liars.”

Earlier on Monday, Crooks, Leeds and Holvey appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” to share their stories.

Leeds said she shared her story because she "wanted people to know what kind of person he is.” Holvey said his election despite the allegations against him made Trump’s inauguration day particularly difficult.

“It was like the entire country said, ‘Meh, we don’t care that he’s like this,’” she said.

Holvey, a former Miss USA contestant, told CNN last year that Trump inspected each woman during an event in New York City in the month before the contest. 

"He would step in front of each girl and look you over from head to toe like we were just meat; we were just sexual objects; that we were not people," Holvey told CNN. "You know when a gross guy at the bar is checking you out? It's that feeling."

Crooks told The New York Times that she shook hands when she met Trump while working for a firm in Manhattan's Trump Tower in 2005. Crooks, then 22, said he wouldn't let go of her hand, kissed her cheeks, then kissed her "directly on the mouth."

>> Related: Rep. John Conyers announces retirement in wake of sexual harassment allegations

"It was so inappropriate," she told the Times. "I was so upset that he thought I was so insignificant that he could do that."

Leeds told The New York Times that Trump put his hands up her skirt after meeting her on a plane in the early 1980s.

"He was like an octopus," she said. "His hands were everywhere."

Boyne told The Huffington Post that Trump made models walk on a table during a dinner in New York in 1996.

She told the news site Trump “stuck his head right underneath their skirts” and made crude comments about their underwear and genitalia.

In a statement released Monday, White House officials called the accusations false.

“The American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory (last year),” the statement said. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

Crooks called the White House statement “laughable.” 

“I think, if they were willing to investigate Sen. (Al) Franken, I think it’s only fair that they do the same for Trump,” Crooks said.

>> Related: Al Franken will resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct

Franken announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. The Minnesota Democrat was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two women.

He is one of three lawmakers who have announced their intention to leave office in weeks amid sexual misconduct scandals.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

Lawmakers call for investigation into Trump sexual misconduct allegations

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are calling on the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct levied against President Donald Trump, a group of female U.S. representatives said at a news conference Tuesday.

>> Read more trending news

More than a dozen women have accused the president of forced kissing, unwanted groping and making inappropriate sexual comments since 2015, when Trump announced his plan to run for office. The allegations span decades.

The president has repeatedly denied the claims.

The chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida, said Tuesday that “the time is right to get the truth” about the allegations. She said a letter requesting a congressional investigation had garnered more than 100 signatures from Democratic lawmakers by Tuesday afternoon.

>> Related: Who is accusing Trump of sexual misconduct?

“The #MeToo movement has arrived,” Frankel said. “Sexual abuse will not be tolerated, whether it’s by a Hollywood producer, the chef of a restaurant, a member of Congress or the president of the United States.”

The letter, sent to the chair and vice chair of the House Oversight Committee, said that the president has made statements that have appeared to give credence to the allegations against him.

“The President has boasted in public and in crude terms that he feels at liberty to perpetrate such conduct against women,” the letter said, referencing a 2005 video from “Access Hollywood” in which Trump could be heard making crude comments about women. 

“Subsequently, Mr. Trump apologized and called it ‘locker room talk.’ He has since called all his accusers liars.”

>> Related: Melania Trump defends husband's lewd comments about women as 'boy talk'

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Michigan, the vice president of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, said Tuesday that Americans “deserve to have a thorough investigation that will reveal the facts.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed the call for an investigation as unnecessary and unwanted by the American people.

“The president has answered these questions,” she said Tuesday at a news briefing. “He has spoken to these accusations and denied and pushed that they are all false and fabricated accusations. Frankly, I think if Congress wants to spend time investigating things they should prob focus on some of the thins that the American people would really like to investigate, like how to secure our borders, how to defeat ISIS (or) how to pass tax reform that actually impacts them.”

Four of Trump’s accusers on Monday called on Congress to investigate Trump’s behavior. Rachel Crooks, Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Lisa Boyne first accused Trump of sexual harassment in the run-up to last year’s election.

“They’ve investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that (Trump) be investigated as well,” Holvey said Monday at a news conference. “I think also a nonpartisan investigation is very important, not just for him but for anybody that has allegations against them. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is how women are treated every day.”

The pressure to investigate Trump’s actions has grown as the “#MeToo” movement has encouraged more women to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. Earlier this month, three lawmakers announced their intention to resign or retire amid sexual harassment scandals.

>> Related: Trump accusers call for congressional investigation into alleged sexual misconduct

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, announced last week that he plans to resign in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him by several women. He was accused of groping women as they posed for photos with him and forcibly kissing at least two people.

Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, submitted his resignation last week after he was accused of sexually harassing several women who worked for him. Conyers, D-Michigan, denied the allegations but said he decided to retire because of health concerns. The 88-year-old congressman was hospitalized in Michigan earlier this month.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Arizona, said last week that he plans to resign from his seat by the end of January after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by his former employees.

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