Senator Al Franken, D-Minn., is trying to spin his apology to a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct into evidence that he’s a champion of feminism.
On Thursday, Leeann Tweeden accused Sen. Franken of forcing her to kiss him and shoving his tongue down her throat during a comedy tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2006. She also shared a photograph of Franken appearing to grope her breasts while she was asleep.
Tweeden said she felt “disgusted and violated” by Franken. The picture of Franken with his hands over her breasts made her feel “embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.”
There were immediate calls for Franken to resign from the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has called for the Ethics Committee to begin an investigation into Franken’s conduct.
In a statement responding to the photographic evidence Tweeden provided, Franken apologized and then asserted that he respects women.
“I respect women,” Franken said. “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.”
Franken went on to say the recent widespread reports of sexual abuse in Hollywood, the media, and in politics are cause for reflection.
“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 Leeann would feel violated by that picture.” Then he turns.
“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.”
Though Franken says he doesn’t remember shoving his tongue down Tweeden’s throat, he says he understands “why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”
He will “gladly” cooperate with the ethics investigation, he says. And whatever people think of Franken and his perverted behavior toward Tweeden, captured in a photograph, is “far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward with 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 making it up to them,” Franken concluded.
This apology is the real joke. Franken doesn’t respect women. He’s made demeaning and inappropriate, sexualized jokes about women for decades. Now that there’s photographic evidence that he’s acted in the disgusting manner he joked about for years, he wants to hide behind his liberalism.
Franken issued this apology, and Tweeden accepted his apology, but only after the evidence of what he did was made public. Tweeden noted that he did not apologize at any time during the 11 years following the tour.
Leeann Tweeden says she accepts Al Franken's apology, but wonders why he didn't apologize to her 11 years ago when he had the chance. pic.twitter.com/2FP8dN8j3B— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) November 16, 2017
What is the standard here? If we disqualify our elected officials from holding office upon credible allegations of sexual misconduct, then Franken has got to go. This pathetic “apology” changes nothing.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to make clear that it was Tweeden who noted that Franken did not apologize until after the photograph and accusations had been made public.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
Hometown allies are defending the congressman, despite the overwhelming evidence.
Democrats are trying to take Franken's case to the place where allegations go to die.
"They're slamming it to millions of Americans ... because they will not cut government."
Hint: They have NOTHING outside of manufactured rage.