Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is shocked – shocked! – to learn Al Franken engaged in sexual misconduct.
“If you had asked me two weeks ago, would any women come forward with allegations like this I would have said no,” Franken said at a Monday afternoon presser outside his Senate office. It’s his first day back to work since four women accused the former Saturday Night Live regular of grabbing their butts during photo ops, or forcing a kiss during a USO tour skit rehearsal.
“This has been a shock, and extremely humbling,” he told a gaggle of media gathered at his presser. “I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed.”
“What I’m going to do is I’m going to start my job, go back to work, work as hard as I can for the people of Minnesota and I’m going to start that now,” Franken vowed.
The presser was textbook Crisis Management – Admit, Apologize with Feeling, Promise it Won’t Happen Again, Get Back to Work – observed CNN commentator/USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page.
In his walk-up to today’s return to work, Franken also told TV interviewer CBS Minnesota affiliate WCCO, he was “embarrassed and ashamed of some of what has come out.” As he had said previously, he claimed to have a “different recollection of the kiss” radio host Leanne Tweeden alleged she only agreed to during a 2006 USO tour so he’d stop badgering her. The kiss happened while they were rehearsing a tour skit in which he would kiss her.
“I apologized to her and meant it and she was gracious enough to accept my apology,” Franken said during the WCCO interview.
The picture of Franken with his hands over Tweeden’s breasts, as she slept on the flight back from Afghanistan, he called “inexcusable,” adding, “that is what I am most ashamed for.”
Since Tweeden came forward, three women have claimed Franken grabbed their butts during photo ops.
Franken said he does not remember “these particular photos,” explaining “I take thousands of photos. Asked “have you ever placed a hand on some woman’s butt?” he responded, “I can’t say that it hasn’t happened. In crowded chaotic situations, I can’t say I haven’t done that. I am very sorry if these women experienced that.”
Franken does not intend to step down from the Senate, saying he thinks he can win back the respect of the people of Minnesota.