Embattled Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken issued another apology on Thanksgiving afternoon, saying he would work to regain Minnesotans’ trust after two more women came forward this week with allegations he had groped them.
He defended himself in the statement, saying, “I’m a warm person; I hug people,” and that “some women” found his “greetings or embraces” inappropriate, while not admitting to the specific alleged behavior. Even the Washington Post noted in a headline: “Al Franken still hasn’t denied grabbing women.”
Franken said in his statement Thursday:
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. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many.
Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that. I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations.
I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again. And let me say again to Minnesotans that I’m sorry for putting them through this and I’m committed to regaining their trust.
Franken first came under scrutiny last week after sportscaster and model Leeann Tweeden said that, during a USO tour to the Middle East, he stuck his tongue in her mouth without her consent and later took a picture of him groping her breasts while she was asleep.
Franken said he remembered the kiss “differently” and characterized the groping photo as a bad joke.
However, since then, three more women have come forward with stories of Franken grabbing their buttocks as they took photos with him.
On Monday, Lindsay Menz, 33, contacted CNN to say that Franken grabbed her buttocks when they took a photo during a Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Franken had already assumed office by then.
On Wednesday, two more women told the Huffington Post that Franken had groped their buttocks while he was taking photos with them.
One said it happened at a June 2007 event hosted by the Minnesota Women’s Political Caucus in Minneapolis, and a second woman said he had cupped her butt during a 2008 Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis, then he allegedly suggested they visit the bathroom together.
Franken on Wednesday said he didn’t remember the events — and that he could not respond to anonymous accusers — before issuing his apology on Thursday.
Franken is now facing a potential Senate ethics investigation and calls for his resignation. Prior to the allegations, Al Franken was seen as a potential 2020 presidential contender.