Sen. Al Franken has been accused of groping a woman during a USO tour in 2006 — and he's supporting the call for a congressional investigation into his own behavior.
On Thursday, KABC Radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden published a story accusing Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of “aggressively” kissing and groping her, without her consent, during a USO tour in 2006.
The kiss was part of a comedy skit he had written for the two of them, and according to Tweeden, he repeatedly insisted that they rehearse the kiss. When she reluctantly agreed, hoping that he would “stop badgering” her, he “mashed his lips against” hers and “aggressively stuck his tongue in” her mouth.
After the incident, she says, she “felt disgusted and violated.”
Tweeden also included a photograph of Franken groping her breasts while she was asleep.
Shortly after Tweeden’s story was released, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an ethics investigation into Franken’s behavior, even though the incident occurred before Franken joined the Senate.
In a statement, Franken apologized for his behavior and agreed that an investigation should be undertaken:
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.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed. […]
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
The reactions to the allegations on Capitol Hill have been swift, with Franken’s fellow Democratic senators, including Missouri’s Claire McCaskill and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, unequivocally condemning sexual misconduct and supporting calls for an ethics investigation.
It’s a far cry from how Republicans have handled similar allegations against members of their own party.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee immediately called on Democrats to return any donations they have received from Franken, despite waiting nearly a week to sever ties with Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore, who has been accused by many women of sexually assaulting them when they were minors.
Neither McConnell nor any member of his party has called for investigations into Donald Trump, who has not only been accused of sexually assaulting and harassing multiple women, but has actually admitted to it.
Despite the Republican Party’s obvious and transparent attempt to use allegations against Franken to distract from the disastrous Moore situation — and their continued refusal to address the admitted sexual predator in the White House — Democrats are holding themselves to a higher, nonpartisan standard. As well they should.
Anyone accused of sexual assault or harassment should be held to account, regardless of party. That Franken has agreed to cooperate with an investigation is a good first step.