Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken, who announced plans earlier this month to resign his seat, will leave the Senate on January 2, his office said. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith will join the Senate the following day. “When I leave the Senate in a few weeks,” Franken said during a speech on the Senate floor, “I will continue trying to be an educated citizen and an advocate and an activist.” Until Wednesday afternoon, Franken had not given a specific date for when he will resign. The senator said he has learned a lot over the last eight and half years in his position and gained new perspective on issues and how decisions are made in Washington. Franken added he will continue to give a series of speeches before he leaves.
“Before I go, I want to spend some time sharing what I have learned in a series of speeches focusing on the challenges I came to Washington to address, the challenges that my colleagues will continue to wrestle with, challenges that will determine not just what kind of political landscape we leave for the next generation of senators but what kind of country we leave for the next generation of Americans,” he said. Following his announcement that he would resign from Congress, two Democratic senators said that Franken should not have stepped down before the Senate Ethics Committee had completed its investigation into the Minnesota Democrat. However, many of the Democratic senators who had previously called on Franken to resign said earlier this week that they stood by those calls and had not changed their mind. Franken has been accused by multiple women of touching them inappropriately. Franken apologized for some of the accusations but in his resignation speech said that his response to those women’s accounts “gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven’t done.” “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” he said on the Senate floor December 7. “Others I remember very differently.” A special election will be held in Minnesota to permanently fill the seat timed to next year’s midterm elections in November. Smith has said she’ll run for that position.