Franken's Past Sexual Humor Has Been Scrutinized Before

Former Clinton Staffer Well Franken's Sexual Assault Was Benign

US senator Al Franken apologises after accusation of groping

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had said Franken's earlier statement - in which he dismissed the photo as "clearly meant to be funny" - was insufficient and that she believes Tweeden's accusations, but wouldn't comment on whether her Democratic colleague should resign, according to The Hill.

"I felt like he wrote that just to get that piece in, because he knew he wasn't going to get it on stage and that was why he was badgering me to do it then when we were alone because that's what he wanted", she said. "I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth". "It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture".

Franken issued an initial apology on Thursday morning.

With the support of her colleagues and her family - and the media impulse since the case of Harvey Weinstein - Tweeden has made a decision to speak "not just because 2017 is not 2006, or because I am much more secure in my career now than I was then, and not because I'm still angry".

And now, a video has surfaced of Franken and Tweeden on stage together.

Leeann Tweeden also accused Franken of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept, while both were performing for military personnel two years before the one-time comedian was elected to the Senate. The former model said the incidents occurred in 2006, when she was touring with Franken in Iraq and Afghanistan, performing skits to entertain USA troops. As to the photo, it was clearly meant to be amusing but wasn't.

"I respect women I don't respect men who don't. There's more I want to say, but the first and most important thing-and if it's the only thing you care to hear, that's fine - is: I'm sorry", Franken said in the email statement. "I want them, and all the other victims of sexual assault, to be able to speak out immediately, and not keep their stories -and their anger- locked up inside for years, or decades".

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Of the photo, Franken said: "I look at it now, and I feel disgusted with myself".

Franken has since apologized for the incident, writing in a statement Thursday, "While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences".

Later Thursday afternoon he put out an extended statement, apologizing further and asking for an ethics investigation with which he would "gladly cooperate". And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter.

In response, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) called for an investigation into Franken's conduct.

"Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated", Schumer tweeted and also called for the Ethics Committee to "fully investigate" the allegations.

Tweeden said she was inspired to tell her story by women members of Congress who spoke up against harassment this week. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this.

"Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable-in the workplace or anywhere else", said McConnell.

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