In a statement released Thursday, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said he does not remember forcibly kissing a woman and groping her breasts as she slept, but he is sorry about it anyway.
Hours ago an anchorwoman, Leeann Tweeden, published an account of the Democratic senator grabbing the back of her head and forcing his tongue down her throat in 2006. The story included a photo of a smiling Franken groping her breasts without her consent as she slept.
During a United Service Organizations tour, Tweeden and Franken were to perform a skit together. Franken wrote a scene including a kiss between them and insisted that Tweeden “rehearse” the kiss with him backstage before the show.
On the day of the show Franken and I were alone backstage going over our lines one last time. He said to me, ‘We need to rehearse the kiss.’ I laughed and ignored him. Then he said it again. I said something like, ‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL…we don’t need to rehearse the kiss.’
He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn’t be so nice about it the next time.
I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth.
I felt disgusted and violated.
In a statement released Thursday, Franken said he does not “remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way.” “But I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
— Alex Rogers (@arogDC) November 16, 2017
Tweeden isn’t the only woman Franken has been photographed groping. At a roast hosted by Comedy Central in 2000, Franken was photographed groping Joy Behar’s breast.
— Bre Payton (@Bre_payton) November 16, 2017
In the statement, Franken called for an ethics investigation into his actions, which he says he plans to comply with. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have also called for an ethics probe into Franken’s behavior.
The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) is calling on Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to return $5,000 Franken contributed to Kaine’s campaign.
“If Kaine won’t immediately denounce Franken and return his donations, it will be clear he puts partisan politics over basic decency,” NRSC said in a statement.
The news of Franken’s alleged misdeeds comes on the heels of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) telling MSNBC that $15 million in taxpayer dollars have been doled out to cover up sexual harrassement allegations against House members. Another woman has come forward against Franken, saying he stalked and harassed her.
Yes, it’s true. I was stalked and harassed by Al Franken. I will have details @MediaEqualizer shortly.
— Melanie Morgan (@MelMorgan1350) November 16, 2017
“Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the psycho-stalker Al Franken doesn’t end up cheating his way into the U.S. Senate,” Morgan wrote on her website in 2008.