WASHINGTON, November 16, 2017 ⏤ Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., is facing accusations of sexual harassment stemming from a 2006 encounter with Los Angeles morning news anchor Leeann Tweeden.
Tweeden has a photo of herself, asleep as Franken covers her breasts with his hands during a USO tour. It is not the only time Franken sexually assaulted her, Tweeden alleges.
Al Franken: In Hollywood and in Politics, sex is power
This latest incident comes amid a growing national furor over sexual harassment and misconduct.
A House hearing had members discussing what they see as a massive sexual harassment problem on the hill. Both parties are asking the Senate ethics committee to review Tweeden’s story against Franken. Another incident, according to Tweeden, was during a USO event. In the skit, Franken was planning to kiss her.
Tweeden alleges that Franken insisted they rehearse the scene but she refused. Franken later forced himself onto her.
Al Franken’s Response
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, 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. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.”
Tweeden accepted the apology and said she wasn’t looking for anything. She said she is not asking for Franken to step down, but her mind may change if other women come forward with allegations. Her allegations shook the Capitol and lawmakers from both parties.
The Senate response to allegations against Al Franken
The revelation has drawn calls for a Senate ethics investigation into Franken’s actions. Franken has apologized for the incident. With the damning photo, and according to Liberal rules (imagine it was Paul Ryan groping a woman while she is sleeping) Franken should immediately step down, at a minimum, during the Senate ethics investigation.
“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” McConnell said in a written statement. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer supported McConnell’s call and released a statement:
“I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a colleague of Franken’s, called his behavior “unacceptable and deeply disappointing” and said she looked forward to an investigation.
As the fallout continues, Republicans are attempting to connect Democrat senators who are running for re-election to Franken. Republicans have demanded that Democratic candidates who have received funds from Franken to return those donations.
Al Franken is up for reelection in 2020.