Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) issued a new statement in which he apologized to his state’s constituents and said that he “crossed a line for some women.”
But Franken, facing allegations of unwanted advances and groping, vowed to regain the trust of the state’s electorate, in what may be an indication that he has no plans to resign.
Hi latest statement, issued on Thursday, Franken did not directly address the latest allegations. The Huffington Post on Wednesday reported the claims of two women, who refused to be identified, who said that he grabbed their butts during photo shoots while running for Senate in 2007 and 2008.
Last week, Leeann Tweeden, a newscaster at KABC Radio in Los Angeles, claimed that Franken kissed her inappropriately and groped her while they were on a 2006 USO tour. Another woman, Lindsay Menz, told CNN that in 2010 at the Minnesota State Fair, the senator grabbed her butt while on a photo shoot.
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations,” Franken said in his statement. “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.”
The statement was given to the StarTribune, the Minneapolis paper, and other news outlets on Thursday.
In the wake of the allegations last week, some of Franken’s female staffers came to his defense, while the senator called for an ethics investigation. But then new allegations emerged this week.
“Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that,” Franken said in his statement. “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.”
After he was elected and took office in 2009, Franken downplayed his comedy roots and celebrity status, forgoing national media appearances in favor of a more low-key approach. After his reelection in 2014, that has started to change. He wrote a book that was published this year and, although he denied it, was mentioned as a contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
He also has been an outspoken champion of net neutrality, and often has been among the most critical voices warning against media industry consolidation. He was particularly aggressive in hearings on the 2011 merger of Comcast with NBC Universal, and later when Comcast planned to acquire Time Warner Cable. The latter transaction was ultimately abandoned.