Sen. Al Franken expanded on the tepid sort-of apology his press office issued immediately after broadcaster Leeann Tweeden said his actions left her feeling "disgusted and violated" when they were both part of a 2006 performance for troops. He said he will cooperate with any ethics investigation launched to investigate the matter.
"There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine—is: I'm sorry," his updated statement says. (The full statement is below).
Franken is scheduled to be in Atlanta on Nov. 20 for an appearance at the Book Festival of the MJCCA. His appearance, promoting his book "Al Franken, Giant of the Senate," was scheduled well before anyone could have imagined he'd be trending on Twitter for all the wrong reasons. The event is sold out.
Franken, a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, authored several books and hosted a talk show on Air America before he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Tweeden said she and Franken were both part of a USO tour that included a skit he wrote, during which they were to kiss. She had planned to rebuff him for comic effect, but he demanded they rehearse ahead of time, wrote in an public message posted on social media.
"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," she wrote. Her post includes a photo of Franken making a lewd gesture next to her while she was asleep.
Franken's office released a statement saying the photo was "intended to be funny" and he doesn't remember the rehearsal incident Tweeden recalled, but he offered his apologies nonetheless. Less than a month ago he posted a message saluting women who have shared their "Me Too" stories and said all must sand with victims of sexual harassment and violence:
"I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep," she wrote. I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?"
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Reaction has been swift:
Franken's office initially issued a statement saying he doesn't recall the rehearsal episode and that the pose he struck while Tweeden was asleep was supposed to be funny. "I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann," it said.
Here is Franken's complete, more recent statement: