An ‘Embarrassed And Ashamed’ Al Franken Hopes To ‘Gradually Regain’ Trust As He Returns To The Senate

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Senator Al Franken (D-MN) will return to Capitol Hill on Monday following allegations from multiple women that he inappropriately touched them. The accusations began with broadcaster Leeann Tweeden’s claim that he kissed and groped her without consent. Soon, another woman alleged that Franken grabbed her rear during a photo op, an accusation that was soon echoed by two other women. Franken has delivered a pair of apologies, the second of which saw him acknowledge that he likes to “hug people” but that he’s “learned from recent stories that I crossed a line for some women.”

Speaking with the Minneapolis Star Tribune paper, Franken now says that he is both “embarrassed and ashamed.” He hopes that he can “gradually regain” the trust of his constituents and Americans at large, but he also claims that of the “tens of thousands of photos” that he’s taken, he doesn’t recall any instances in which he groped a woman’s behind:

“I don’t remember these photographs, I don’t,” he said. “This is not something I would intentionally do.”

Franken said he has spent the past week “thinking about how that could happen and I just recognize that I need to be more careful and a lot more sensitive in these situations.”

Franken also claims to have been completely shocked by the allegations against him, and he hopes there will be no more accusations:

“If you had asked me two weeks ago, ‘Would any woman say I had treated her with disrespect?’ I would have said no. So this has just caught me by surprise … I certainly hope not.”

In addition, Franken continued to express that he will be fully cooperative with the Senate Ethics Committee probe, which he says will hold him accountable. Of the many allegations against men in power since late October (and it feels like so much longer) when scores of Harvey Weinstein accusers began to come forward, many people have been particularly disheartened by Franken — who has been an outspoken advocate of women’s rights — entering the mix. On Saturday, Franken told Minnesota Public Radio, “I want to be a better man.”

(Via Star Tribune & Minnesota Public Radio)