Minnesota Sen. Al Franken confronted a storm of criticism and a probable ethics investigation after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her throughout a 2006 USO tour.
He was the primary member of Congress caught up within the latest wave of allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct.
Franken apologized Thursday, however the criticism solely grew by means of the day. Fellow Democrats swiftly condemned his actions, aware of the present local weather in addition to the prospect of political blowback.
Republicans, nonetheless compelled to reply for the a number of allegations dealing with Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, joined in urgent for an investigation. Franken stated he would welcome it.
Leeann Tweeden posted her allegations, together with a photograph of Franken and her, on the web site of KABC, the place she works as a information anchor for a morning radio present. The photograph exhibits Franken posing in a joking method, smiling on the digital camera together with his fingers on her chest as she naps sporting a flak vest aboard a navy airplane. Each had been performing for navy personnel in Afghanistan two years earlier than the one-time “Saturday Night time Dwell” comic was elected to the Senate.
WATCH: Leeann Tweeden, Al Franken’s accuser, particulars her encounter in 2006
Franken, 66, was the newest public determine to be caught within the deluge of revelations of sexual harassment and misconduct which have crushed careers, ruined reputations and prompted prison investigations in Hollywood, enterprise and past.
The swift rebukes from each Republican and Democratic lawmakers recommend that momentum from the net #Metoo motion has begun to spur a tradition shift on Capitol Hill, the place present and former staffers say misogynistic and predatory conduct has lengthy been an open secret.
In an announcement Thursday, Franken apologized to Tweeden and his constituents whereas sustaining that he remembered the rehearsal in a different way. Tweeden stated she accepted his apology.
“Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve informed and written quite a lot of jokes that I as soon as thought had been humorous however later got here to comprehend had been simply plain offensive,” Franken wrote.
“I respect ladies. I don’t respect males who don’t,” he added. “And the truth that my very own actions have given individuals an excellent motive to doubt that makes me really feel ashamed.”
Of the photograph, Franken stated: “I take a look at it now, and I really feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t humorous. It’s utterly inappropriate. It’s apparent how Leeann would really feel violated by that image.”
WATCH: Al Franken apologizes after radio host accuses him of sexual misconduct
U.S. President Donald Trump ridiculed Franken in tweets Thursday evening: “The Al Frankenstien image is de facto dangerous, speaks a thousand phrases. The place do his fingers go in photos 2, three, four, 5 & 6 whereas she sleeps? ….. And to suppose that simply final week he was lecturing anybody who would hear about sexual harassment and respect for girls. Lesley Stahl tape?”
Trump, who misspelled the title Frankenstein, referred to a New York journal story from 1995 wherein Franken, whereas a author for “Saturday Night time Dwell,” urged a skit wherein “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney would muse about drugging correspondent Leslie Stahl and taking photos of her.
Trump has been publicly silent concerning the allegations in opposition to Moore, the Republican nominee in Alabama’s particular Senate election. By means of a spokeswoman, he referred to as the allegations of sexual misconduct in opposition to the previous decide “very troubling” however stopped wanting calling on Moore to drop out.
The accusations in opposition to Franken come simply days after the Senate unanimously adopted necessary sexual harassment coaching for members and staffs amid a flood of tales about harassment, sexual misconduct and gender hostility from staffers, aides and even feminine elected officers.
Senate Democrats spoke with one voice in describing Franken’s actions as unacceptable and calling for an ethics probe.
Franken’s fellow Minnesota Democrat, Amy Klobuchar, stated, “This could not have occurred to Leeann Tweeden. I strongly condemn this conduct, and the Senate Ethics Committee should open an investigation.”
WATCH: White Home provides curt response to Al Franken allegations
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who’s dealing with a tricky re-election subsequent yr, stated she was “shocked and anxious.” She stated, “Comedy is not any excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I imagine there needs to be an ethics investigation.”
Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and the highest Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, referred to as for an ethics inquiry.
Tweeden stated Franken wrote a skit for the pair that was full of “sexual innuendo,” and had introduced a lady’s thong as a prop that he waved round throughout their efficiency. A part of the skit included a kiss, she stated, and he insisted they follow throughout a rehearsal regardless of her protests.
“We did the road main as much as the kiss after which he got here at me, put his hand on the again of my head, mashed his lips in opposition to mine and aggressively caught his tongue in my mouth,” she wrote.