After allegations surfaced stating that Democratic Senator Al Franken groped a female broadcaster and forcibly kissed her, Franken released a new statement beyond an initial apology. Franken has called for an ethics investigation into his own actions, stating, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”
As reported by The Hill, Leeann Tweeden, the television host and sports broadcaster who made the allegations against Franken, shared a photo showing him groping her breasts while she slept. The pair were traveling as part of a 2006 USO tour at the time of the incident.
Tweeden also claimed that Franken aggressively kissed her while they were rehearsing a skit for a performance associated with the tour.
Initially, Franken released a three-sentence statement, saying he didn’t remember the rehearsal “in the same way.”
In the statement, he wrote that he offered “my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” and asserted that he should not have snapped the photo, which he claimed was “clearly intended to be funny.”
Franken received a substantial amount of criticism for the first statement, including accusations that it was not a real apology.
In the newest statement, he said, “The first and most important thing – and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine – is: I’m sorry.”
“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,” Franken added. “And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.”
Franken reiterated that he did not remember the skit rehearsal “in the same way” as Tweeden, but said that she “deserved to be heard.”
The statement read: “The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories.” He continued, “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 isn’t the only one who has called for an ethics investigation into the incident. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and Senator Claire McCaskill have also stated that an investigation should be conducted based on the allegations.
According to Time, Tweeden has accepted Franken’s apology, stating that people make mistakes, and isn’t calling for an ethics investigation herself.