WASHINGTON — Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) returned to the Senate on Monday, telling reporters that he “let a lot of people down” as allegations from four women surfaced that he groped or kissed them inappropriately before and after his political career.
Franken appeared before reporters outside his Senate office, and gave no indication that he was planning to resign.
“I know that I have let a lot of people down,” Franken said.
He apologized to the women accusers, as well as to his constituents.
“To all of you, I just want to say again, I am sorry,” he said. “I know that there are no magic words I can say to regain your trust, and I know that is going to take time, I am ready to start that process and it starts with going back to work today.”
Leeann Tweeden, a radio host for KABC in Los Angeles, said Franken groped her and kissed her inappropriately when they were on a USO tour in 2006. Since then, Lindsay Menz has come forward to allege that Franken grabbed her buttocks during a photo shoot at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two other women told the Huffington Post that Franken groped them as they took photos during his initial Senate campaign in 2007 and 2008.
Franken has said he does not recall the photo shoots, but told reporters that “it has been clear there are some women — and one is too many — who feel that I have done something that is disrespectful, that has hurt them, and for that I am tremendously sorry. I know that I am going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances, much more careful, and much more sensitive, and that this will never happen again going forward.”
He added, “I’m going to try to learn from my mistakes. In doing so, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and I want to be someone who adds something to this conversation. I hope I can do that.”
He said he recalled the circumstances of one of Tweeden’s allegations differently — when he kissed her as part of a rehearsal for a sketch — but “I feel that you have to respect a woman’s experience.”
Franken said he would cooperate with a Senate ethics committee investigation. In the wake of Tweeden’s allegations, he called for such a probe, as did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Franken spoke to Minnesota media outlets over the weekend to apologize for the incidents, and he also vowed to regain voters’ trust. He had missed some Senate votes and other events in the wake of the allegations.