Al Franken accused of sexual harassment and assault

Al Franken accused of sexual harassment and assault
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Jose Luis Magana/AP
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Jose Luis Magana/AP

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is the latest powerful man to be accused of sexual assault, after Los Angeles radio show host Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006.

Tweeden made the allegations in a piece for KABC, the Los Angeles radio station she works for, saying Franken groped and kissed her while on a United Service Organization trip to entertain troops stationed in the Middle East.

Franken — a former comedian and writer for Saturday Night Live — wrote a skit that he and Tweeden would perform for the troops. The skit included a kiss between Franken and Tweeden.

“I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd,” Tweeden wrote of the scripted kiss.

When it came time to rehearse, Tweeden said that she told Franken she didn’t want to rehearse the kiss, but he insisted.

“He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” Tweeden wrote.

Tweeden said that wasn’t the only instance of Franken’s harassment.

She said on the 36-hour trip back to Los Angeles, Franken grabbed her breasts while she was asleep — which she posted an image of in her account.

“I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,” Tweeden wrote. “I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?”

In a statement sent to reporters, Franken apologized for his actions.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

President Donald Trump — who has been hit by multiple allegations of sexual assault — refused to comment on the Franken accusations on Thursday, when he traveled to Capitol Hill to push for tax reform.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for the Ethics Committee to “review the matter.”

“Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else,” McConnell said in a statement.

Franken could be one of a number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle hit with sexual harassment and assault allegations.

At a House hearing on Tuesday about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, two female lawmakers said they have heard of two men who currently serve in Congress that have engaged in sexual harassment.

Nov. 16, 2017, 11:47 a.m.: This article has been updated.