Gillibrand: I believe Franken’s accuser
A Democratic senator says she believes the woman accusing fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) of groping and kissing her without consent during a USO tour in 2006.
Asked if she believes the woman accusing Franken, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said, “I do.”
Gillibrand’s remarks came after Leeann Tweeden, a morning radio anchor in Los Angeles, wrote a post on the radio station’s website Thursday in which she said Franken grabbed her breasts while she was sleeping during a USO tour to entertain troops in the Middle East in December 2006.
Tweeden included a photograph of the incident as proof.
Tweeden also said Franken wrote her into a skit for his performance that included a kissing scene, then insisted on kissing her during rehearsal for the sketch, despite her objections.
Gillibrand briefly answered questions on Franken after a press conference where she re-introduced a bill to tackle sexual assault in the military.
She is also the co-author of a bill introduced Wednesday to overhaul policies to combat and report complaints of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.
In a statement, Franken apologized, saying he does not remember the rehearsal the same way and that the photo was meant to be a joke.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it,” he said.
Gillibrand told reporters that she didn’t think Franken’s response that the photo was supposed to be a joke is sufficient.
“They are deeply concerning, and I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken,” she said of the allegations.
The accusations against Franken come after several women have accused Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, including assault, when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Moore is facing growing calls from top Republicans to step aside in the special election race, though he has indicated he plans to continue running.
Asked if Franken should resign, Gillibrand reiterated both her opposition to Moore and her call to hear more from Franken.
“I feel very strongly that Roy Moore should not be a senator, and I feel strongly that if he is elected, that the Senate should have its own response to it,” she said. “I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken on this issue.”