Al Franken Joins Call For Ethics Probe Of Himself; Roy Moore Cries Hypocrisy

Al Franken Neil Gorsuch

UPDATED with Roy Moore tweet: Alabama’s GOP senate hopeful Roy Moore has accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of a double standard in dealing with allegations against himself and those issued this morning against Democrat Sen. Al Franken.

Moore is accused of harassing and assaulting girls as young as 14, when he was in his 30’s and serving as assistant DA in the state; he has denied all claims made by nine women. Franken has apologized to radio host Leeann Tweeden for a photo she published showing him with his hands over her breasts as she slept on a flight back from Afghanistan where they had been on USO tour.

Moore’s tweet:

Previous, expanded statement from Al Franken: Minnesota’s Sen. Al Franken has joined those calling for an Senate Ethics Committee probe after radio host Leeann Tweeden published a photo of him with his hands on her breasts as she slept on a plane returning from a USO tour in 2006.

Franken also has issued a much longer statement:

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.

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.

But I want to say something else too. Over the last few months, all of us – including and especially men who respect women – have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.

For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.

Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to time to terms with that.

While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leanne does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.

I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken and I fully gladly cooperate.

And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to asking it up to them.

UPDATED with Leeann Tweeden presser: The radio host who accused Sen. Al Franken of groping her back in 2006 as they flew home from a USO tour, said at a presser she accepts his apology, but then was having none of it.

“There is no reason I shouldn’t accept his apology – sure,” she said.

Also, “People make mistakes… so yes, I do accept that apology,”

But Tweeden also told reporters, “I knew, all these years later [he would say] “Oh, I thought it was going to be funny…guess it wasn’t,” she said at a news conference in Los Angeles.

“Nothing like that is ever funny,” she said. “Is it funny if he does that to your sister or your daughter or your wife?” Tweeden said she was particularly upset by the photo in which, as she slept on the flight back from Afghanistan, Franken put his hands over her breasts. In a post on her radio station’s website she also claimed Franken had written a skit for the show in which he would kiss her, repeatedly insisted they rehearse backstage, and then, when she agreed, pushed her head towards his and stuck his tongue in her mouth.

The photo, she said, was the last straw.

“[After] already assaulting me backstage, and all the petty things he was doing to belittle me…oh great, while I was sleeping you do that to me,” she said of the photo.

Previous, Dems reaction:  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday joined Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in calling for an ethics probe of Sen. Al Franken, after a radio host alleged he groped her as they flew back from a USO tour in 2006.

Other Dems condemned Franken’s behavior;  he has issued an apology for the incident, which occurred before the comedian/SNL regular was elected to the Senate in 2008.

“I’m shocked and concerned,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said Thursday afternoon. “The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”

Previous: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for an Ethics Committee investigation of Sen. Al Franken after a Los Angeles radio host alleged he groped her during a USO tour in 2006.

Franken, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate in 2008.

“As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this,” he said. “Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable—in the workplace or anywhere else.”

Republicans are grappling with allegations Alabama’s GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore sexually assaulted teenagers when he was in his 30s. Nine women have made various allegations about Moore, ranging from initiating a relationship with them when they were teens (legal age of consent in the state is 16), to locking one in his car and trying to force their head to his crotch while simultaneously trying to tear off her shirt.

Franken on Thursday morning apologized to Leeann Tweeden after she wrote about working with him on a USO tour; she claimed he kissed her aggressively while rehearsing a skit after she finally agreed to rehearse the kiss so he would “stop badgering” her. She also posted a photo she said was taken when they were flying home from Afghanistan in which she is sleeping and he has his hands over her breasts.

“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” Franken said in a statement.

“As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

Moore has denied all of the claims made by the nine women, calling it a political hit job by the Washington Post, which broke the story; he has threatened to sue the newspaper.

McConnell has condemned Moore’s behavior, said he believes the women, and has floated the idea of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a write-in candidate for his old Senate seat. Moore is running for that seat, with the special election set for December 12.

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