- A former Democratic congressional aide said Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, attempted to forcibly kiss her following a taping of his radio show in 2006.
- Franken, who was a comedian at the time, categorically denies the accusation, calling it “preposterous.”
- A total of seven women have come forward to accuse Franken of sexual misconduct.
A former Democratic congressional aide said Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, attempted to forcibly kiss her following a taping of his radio show in 2006, Politico reported, growing the number of women who have accused the senator of sexual misconduct to seven.
The unnamed woman, who was in her mid-20s at the time, said she was forced to duck quickly to avoid the kiss, as Franken, then a professional comedian, said it was his “right as an entertainer” to kiss her.
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide told Politico. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.'”
Two of the woman’s former colleagues told Politico that the woman told them about the incident – including Franken’s comment that he had the right to kiss her. One former colleague said the woman told her in 2006 and the other said she was told in 2009 or 2010.
The former aide, a longtime Democrat, said she told other friends about the incident with Franken following the publication of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which President Donald Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals, claiming that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”
“Hearing Donald Trump say essentially the same thing that Al Franken said to me, which was ‘It’s my right as an entertainer,’ that was a real trigger,” she told Politico.
Franken flatly denied the accusation in a Wednesday statement, calling the story “preposterous.”
“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous,” he said. “I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”
Franken insists that he doesn’t remember meeting the five women who have accused him of groping them during photo ops, and said that he has a different recollection of a 2006 incident with Leeann Tweeden, a California radio-news anchor, who says Franken forcibly kissed her.
Franken has said he is “ashamed” by the allegations, but has not admitted to knowingly behaving badly, and apologized to the women who have felt disrespected by his behavior. He’s repeatedly promised to “cooperate completely” with any investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into his past behavior.
“I know that I am going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances – much more careful, much more sensitive,” Franken said during a press conference last week. “It’s going to take a long time for me to regain people’s trust, but I hope that starting work today that I can start to do that.”