Sen. Alan S. “Al” Franken (D.-Minn.) issued a new statement Thursday to supplement his previous short explanation about his take on the charge made earlier in the day by Leeann Tweeden that Franken constructed a sexually awkward comedy skit for her to perform with him during their 2006 Middle East USO tour and that Franken insisted on a private rehearsal, where he groped and kissed her.
After she shook off his sexually-tinged advances, Tweeden said Franken began ridiculing her for the rest of the tour–and at one point drew devil horns on a photo of her.
Also after the rehearsal incident, Franken posed for a photo of him groping her breasts as she slept.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
I told my husband everything that happened and showed him the picture.
I wanted to shout my story to the world with a megaphone to anyone who would listen, but even as angry as I was, I was worried about the potential backlash and damage going public might have on my career as a broadcaster.
But that was then, this is now. I’m no longer afraid.
Here is Franken’s second statement posted shortly before 1 p.m. Washington time:
The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. 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.
I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
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.
I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
And 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. 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.
Mitch McConnell Preparing Exit Strategies, Potential Successors in Advance of Possible Retirement
Will Mitch retire?
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly created a shortlist of potential successors, with the establishment Republican considering a possible retirement before his term ends. McConnell was reelected to another Senate term in 2020, and the Intercept broke the news of his retirement considerations on Thursday.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is reportedly McConnell’s first pick for his successor. Former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams are also possible replacements. McConnell, 79, has served as a Kentucky Senator since 1985.
Kentucky law currently would allow Governor Andy Beshear- a Democrat- to appoint McConnell’s successor if he retired. However, McConnell is pushing for the Republican state legislature to pass reforms allowing them to select replacements for Senators who have resigned. McConnell’s quiet boosting of legislative reforms to appoint interim Senators led to the reports of his potential retirement, although it’s unclear when he plans to leave the picture.
McConnell largely alienated the Republican Party with a forceful denunciation of former President Donald Trump during the second sham impeachment trial targeting the President, although he declined to vote to convict the President on the basis of legality. A Republican candidate in the mold of McConnell’s 20th century style would have a difficult time winning a Kentucky GOP primary, and McConnell’s appointed pick may start off in such an election with a considerable handicap. In addition, the legacy Senator remains popular in Kentucky, although at least one county party censured him for his betrayal of Trump in January.
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