Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said on Thursday he feels “terribly that he could make women feel so badly,” and he has learned that for “some women” his actions in encounters with constituents and fans “crossed the line.”
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person, I hug people,” Franken said in a Thanksgiving Day statement released to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed the line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.”
Three women have alleged Franken inappropriately touched them while they posed for photos with him. Los Angeles broadcaster LeAnne Tweeden came forward last week alleging that before he was a senator, Franken forcibly kissed her and inappropriately touched her while she was asleep during a USO tour. Tweeden’s account of the alleged incident included a photograph of her sleeping while Franken appears to grope her breasts.
Tweeden’s story caused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Franken for sexual harassment. Senior Democrats later echoed McConnell’s view. Franken has said that he will cooperate with the probe.
Despite calls from some liberal and conservative commentators to resign, a Franken spokesman told the Star Tribune that the senator, a former SNL comedian and liberal talk-radio host, does not plan on doing so.
Franken’s latest statement addresses the claims of the three women who alleged that in three separate incidents Franken fondled them or inappropriately touched their backsides. Two of the women made their claims as anonymous sources in a Huffington Post report published on Wednesday. An additional woman, Lindsay Menz, accused Franken in a CNN report of groping her at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair, while Franken was in office.
The two women who spoke to Huffington Post allege Franken groped one of them at a 2007 event hosted by the Minnesota Women’s caucus in Minneapolis and the other at a 2008 Democratic fundraiser, also in Minneapolis.
Franken apologized to his constituents and the entire state for the scandal.
“And let me say again to Minnesotans that I’m sorry for putting them through this and I’m committed to regaining their trust.”