Sen. Al Franken Says He 'Crossed The Line' But Won't Resign

Nov 26, 2017
Originally published on November 27, 2017 7:17 am

In the wake of the groping allegations against the Minnesota Democratic senator, Al Franken says he accepts responsibility for his actions but has not considered resigning.

"I'm going to go forward," he said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News. "I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to be held accountable, and I'm going to try to be productive in the way I speak about this."

Franken told MPR he acknowledges he has "crossed the line for some women." He says he will "cooperate fully" with the Senate Ethics Committee.

MPR's Mark Zdechlik reports that four women have made allegations against Franken since mid-November.

Earlier this month Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio host, said Franken groped her in 2006 while the two were onboard an Army transport plane. Tweeden, who was asleep at the time, shared a photo of the future senator putting his hands on her chest while smiling for the camera.

Listen here for the full interview with MPR News.

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This week, the House will vote on a bill called the ME TOO Congress Act that will require all lawmakers and staff to complete anti-harassment training. This comes as two Democrats in Congress face sexual harassment complaints. This morning, Representative John Conyers of Michigan announced he would step down as ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee because of sexual misconduct allegations. He denies those. And then there's Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who has also been accused of harassment. He has apologized but said in an interview today that he has not considered resigning. Mark Zdechlik of Minnesota Public Radio has more on that.

MARK ZDECHLIK, BYLINE: Franken broke his silence in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News. Since mid-November, four women have made allegations against him. Three say Franken touched their buttocks during photo-ops, one of those when Franken was a senator. A fourth accuses Franken of forcibly kissing her before his Senate career when the two were on a USO tour in 2006. That fourth woman also released a photo of Franken reaching toward her chest and smiling for the camera as she slept aboard an airplane in military fatigues. Franken called the picture inexcusable and claims he would never knowingly touch women inappropriately.

AL FRANKEN: I meet tens of thousands of people. I'm someone who hugs people, you know. And I've learned from these stories that in some of these encounters I have crossed a line for some women.

ZDECHLIK: Many Franken opponents, and some supporters, have called on him to resign. Franken says he hasn't even considered stepping down.

FRANKEN: No. No. The ethics committee is looking into all this, and I will cooperate fully with it. Listen. I know I have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of people I've let down.

ZDECHLIK: Franken says he'll return to the Senate on Monday.

FRANKEN: I'm going to go forward. I'm going to take responsibility. I'm going to be held accountable. And I'm going to try to be productive in the way I speak about this.

ZDECHLIK: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and many others have called for an ethics committee investigation into Franklin's alleged behavior. For NPR News, I'm Mark Zdechlik St. Paul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.