U.S. Sen. Al Franken broke his self-imposed silence over the weekend, submitting to a series of media interviews on the sexual misconduct allegations against him, professing his shame and embarrassment. "This has been a shock and it's been extremely humbling". "I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed". "I know I have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of people I've let down".
In the weekend interviews, Franken faced multiple questions about his decision to stay in office despite allegations that he groped several women during photo opportunities and that he forcibly kissed an entertainer while on a USO tour in 2006 before he was elected to the Senate. However, Franken would not acknowledge that he groped women or grabbed their buttocks.
Franken apologized to Tweeden in a statement the same day as her post was published and "to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women".
What exactly the ethics committee will need to look into when there is a photo of Franken clearly groping Leeann Tweeden's chest while she is asleep, Franken doesn't explain. He has nonetheless maintained that he did not recall some of the events, noting he has posed for thousands of photos.
Franken apologized to Tweeden after she made her allegations public 10 days ago and said that he remembered the incident differently.
On Monday, Franken reiterated that he had a different recollection of the kiss, which occurred during a skit rehearsal.
"From these stories it's been clear that there are some women - and one is too many - who feel that I have done something disrespectful or that's hurt them. I'm going to be held accountable and I'm going to try to be productive in the way I speak about this".
The first woman to come forward with allegations of impropriety against Franken was Tweeden, a female radio host.
"I would say yes", Franken answered.
Brendan Smialowski AFP Getty Images FILE
"She. didn't have any ability to consent", he said.
Franken said that he did not remember touching women inappropriately, but said that he posed for "thousands of pictures".
On Capitol Hill, Franken is one of two members of Congress now battling accusations of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching and workplace discrimination.
So far, as Congress grapples with how to handle lawmakers accused of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching or other misconduct, there have not been widespread calls for Franken to resign his Senate seat. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, faces an ethics investigation into reports that he sexually harassed members of his staff.
The editorial board said Franken, despite his vows to do so, may not be able to gain back the trust of his constituents.
On Monday, Franken said he's open to the possibility of the results of that investigation being made public.
"I am not going to get into that or speculate", he said.
"I am not saying that", Franken replied.
"I've been doing a lot of reflecting", Franken added.
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