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Caygle writes: "The Minnesota senator is accused of making an unwanted sexual advance after a taping of his radio show in 2006. He denies the allegation."

Senator Al Franken. (photo: Getty)
Senator Al Franken. (photo: Getty)


Another Woman Says Franken Tried to Forcibly Kiss Her

By Heather Caygle, Politico

06 December 17


The Minnesota senator is accused of making an unwanted sexual advance after a taping of his radio show in 2006. He denies the allegation.

former Democratic congressional aide said Al Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator.

The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face.

The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken’s lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

“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 said in an interview. “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.’”

The former staffer, who was in her mid-20s at the time of the incident, said she did not respond to Franken.

The woman said she had never met Franken prior to the incident. Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008 but began ramping up his political activity in 2006.

Franken, who has been accused by six other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, denied the accusation.

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” Franken said in a statement to POLITICO.

Two former colleagues of the woman independently corroborated her version of events, including Franken telling her he had the right to try to kiss her because he was “an entertainer.” The first former colleague interviewed by POLITICO said she was told of the incident in 2006, shortly after it happened. The second former co-worker said she was made aware of the encounter sometime in 2009 or 2010.

Hours after this story was published, more than a dozen Democratic senators, led by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, called on Franken to resign.

"While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve," Gillibrand said in a Facebook post. She was referring to a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of the sexual harassment claims against Franken.

Franken will be making an announcement on Thursday, his office said after the first wave of senators called for him to step down. Franken's office did not provide information about the announcement, only saying "more details to come."

Franken is one of several lawmakers and candidates facing sexual harassment allegations, amid a national outcry over misconduct that has roiled Hollywood, media and politics. On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) resigned after multiple former female aides accused him of harassing them.

Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, faced a drumbeat of demands from top Democrats to step down. No Senate Democrats have called on Franken to resign, though a smattering of House Democrats have done so.

The former congressional aide, a longtime Democrat, said she is not attempting to force Franken out of office by coming forward now. Her aim is to encourage the former comedian to acknowledge that his behavior towards her and other women was intentional.

“His resignation is not the top of the list there. That’s not my point. It’s not up to me what he does,” the former staffer said.

Franken has said he was “ashamed” about the prior reported incidents but has also said through a spokesperson that he “never intentionally engaged in that kind of conduct.”

The former staffer said a more direct statement of culpability – not just differing recollections of events, as Franken has offered in apologizing to other women – could help shift the national conversation about sexual assault and push harassers to take ownership of their behavior.

“I don’t want to be in the position of deciding whether to tell this story but I’m not the person who put me in that position. He did that,” the woman said. “I think for this moment in time to lead to meaningful change there has to be more than ‘I’m ashamed but I remember things differently’ accounting.”

The former staffer said she mostly kept the encounter to herself, not even telling her boss at the time. But she started to talk more openly about it to close friends after the “Access Hollywood” video was aired in October 2016. In the now infamous tape, Donald Trump is recorded saying his fame gives him carte blanche to grab women’s genitals.

“When it really started impacting me in more of a ‘I’m really angry about about this’ way was last fall when the Trump tape came out,” the former aide said. “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 continued.

The former staffer says she was particularly shaken after seeing Franken on TV responding to the Trump tape last year. Franken dismissed Trump’s excuse that he was just engaging in “locker room talk” and joked that maybe Trump worked out with Roger Ailes, the now deceased Fox News chairman who was forced to resign in 2016 amid allegations he sexually harassed several Fox employees.

“It was a moment in time where I told a number of my friends about my experience with Franken because I saw him on the news being asked about the Trump tape and I felt like it was really hypocritical,” the former staffer said. “It’s a power dynamic and the fact that Donald Trump could say that was not much different from the fact that Al Franken could say it.”

Franken took pains to separate himself from Trump earlier this year before he was accused of sexual harassment, saying just because the two were “both in a branch of show business” is no reason to lump them in the same category politically.

“I consider myself a polar opposite of him, I mean I really do,” Franken said on CNBC of Trump in September, two months before the first sexual harassment allegations against the Minnesota Democrat surfaced.

Franken has agreed to cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into his behavior.

“I do feel this very heavy responsibility to speak the truth,” the former staffer said. “I don’t think that there are different versions of truth and that’s what’s bothered me a lot about [his] responses.”


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0 # bread and butter 2017-12-06 14:29
There are three factions involved here:

1. Group A, who only want members of Group B to face consequences, and really believe no member of Group A could possibly be guilty of any wrongdoing.

2. Group B (same as above, but reverse your "A"s and "B"s).

3. Smartasses like me.
 
 
-2 # librarian1984 2017-12-06 15:51
Sen. Sanders issued a statement:

“Sen. Franken has said that he will be making an announcement about his political future tomorrow. The right thing is for him to resign. We are now at a crossroads in American culture. And it is an important one. The way we treat women in our country has been abysmal in almost every way. We are finally addressing the issue of sexual harassment, and we need to get it right. But the conversation we are having now is only the tip of the iceberg. It needs to be an ongoing movement of women and men that includes a national discussion about sexism, sexual harassment, objectification , inequality and abuse of power.”

Franken has been called on to resign by female senators Hirono, McCaskill, Hassan, Harris, Murray, Baldwin, Stabenow, Heitkamp, Cantwell, Feinstein and Warren, as well as Senators Casey, Donnelly, Brown, Markey, Bennet, Durbin, Leahy, King, Heinrich, Merkley, Wyden and Carper.

Sens. Coons, Shaheen and Katz cannot comment because they're on the Senate Ethics Committee.

Two women senators have not called for Franken to step down: Masto and Klobuchar. Nor have Sens. Blumenthal, Cardin, Kaine, Manchin, Menendez, Nelson, Reed, Schatz, Schumer, Tester, Van Hollen, Whitehouse or Warner. Kaine said he wants to speak to him first.

In related news, Leeann Tweeden was inundated by apologies from Democrats .... right?
 
 
+10 # DudeistPriest 2017-12-06 17:14
all these women crawling out of the woodwork to complain about things that happened years ago to be unbelievable. They should be required to prove their allegations. That's what justice is supposed to be about, or has everyone forgotten that people are innocent until proven guilty?

If the Democrats force Franken to resign without so much as a hearing, then they are just shooting themselves in the foot. I, for one, will never support a Democrat again. The Green party is starting to look better and better.
 
 
-3 # librarian1984 2017-12-06 18:46
Justice Democrats wants Gov. Dayton to replace Franken with Rep. Keith Ellison but I really think it should be a woman. There is speculation he may appoint MN Lt. Gov. Tina Smith.

If Franken steps down Democrats will be able to go after Roy Moore and the GOP no holds barred.
 
 
-4 # librarian1984 2017-12-06 21:28
For hardcore Franken supporters there *is* a way to keep him: he can announce tomorrow that he's becoming a Republican. We know THEY won't hold him accountable, and he'll be a paragon of virtue in the GOP.

Democrats handled this well (and Franken handled it well at first). They stuck by him and Conyers and gave them time to make their case -- but when it passed a certain threshhold they united to take quick action.

One presumes they have evidence enough to convince them. Thirty-three senators have now called for him to step down.

At this point one must turn an angry eye on Franken. He, unless he has a rare form of amnesia, must have known there was the possibility that many more women could come forth, putting the party in a difficult position, particularly Democratic women senators, who have repeatedly been asked why they are defending groping.

THEY did not know the truth and they gave him time and the benefit of the doubt. He DID know, and he let them cover for him, knowing they could be embarrassed at any point.

In addition to paying lip service to feminism while treating numerous women like toys, he hung his colleagues out to dry.

Buh-bye, pos.
 
 
-1 # heiko2012 2017-12-06 23:35
I believe there is an easy solution for Senator Franken - he should switch to the Republican party! Then no matter what he did or did not do - it won't matter anymore.
To call on Senator Franken to resign, given the current molester in chief in the White House, and the molester in robes on the Supreme Court (who by the way are NOT being asked to resign...) is pretty darn silly.
Let the Senate panel do its investigation, rather than call on him to resign right away.
 
 
+3 # RLF 2017-12-07 06:44
At the point a relationship changes from friendly to loving there is a moment in which one party or the other has to be the aggressor (too Strong). while Franken's behavior isn't in accord with many peoples morals (multiple women)it seems to me we're in danger here of making this transition illegal in any way other than by talk, talk, talk. Sorry but talk often spoils the mood. A woman is psychologically damaged because someone tried to kiss her and she turned him down? My! How sensitive you are!
 
 
0 # ddd-rrr 2017-12-07 07:32
While it is a good idea to continually reassess and update one's moral standards,
(and to make adjustments and judgements based on those reassessments), it is
good also to include consideration of the temporal context within which the various
actions occurred that are being assessed. Otherwise, were we able to do this, we
would likely go back in time and do such things as remove Jefferson from office
for having been a slave owner. Slavery is a crime, but it was accepted practice
at the time, horrible as it appears to us now. Moral standards evolve, but if
we do not consider the context extant when currently judging actions
occurring in the past that now offend us, we risk dumping
good people with the bad, as we are now
doing in congress.
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2017-12-07 08:04
If Franken resigns Gov. Dayton will appoint a replacement who will serve until a special election in Nov. 2018. The winner of that election will serve until 2020, when Franken's term would have been up.
 
 
0 # Wise woman 2017-12-07 08:23
Ignoring this problem is what has allowed it to go on and on and on and............
 
 
-2 # librarian1984 2017-12-07 11:02
Franken has done a good thing in a good way. The party is stronger because of what he's done.

Now we can go after the GOP.

Franken is not going to jail. His life is not over. There is nothing to say he cannot run for office again and there is a very good chance this will act as a platform for another very useful, productive career. He is in a good position to help lead on the issue of women's rights -- because it can't just be women who solve this.

I hope he does not turn bitter. I hope he will become a better person and help lead us to a better place. He is smart and gosh darn it, people like him.
 
 
0 # librarian1984 2017-12-07 11:51
Democrats in the House and Senate need to establish a protocol and standards asap in case any more representatives are accused.

Franken's ouster is politically expedient in several ways, unfortunately for him; if a better procedure had been in place this matter would not have been so much at the mercy of those expediencies.

People need to be prepared, in the government and elsewhere, for more revelations. This is not going to be easy but it's necessary for the transition to a less hostile society for women, which should be our goal. We should establish standards as quickly as possible to maximize justice for victims, whether that's the accuser or the accused.

Many of us have seen this before. The Clarence Thomas hearings, for instance. We thought society would change then, but it didn't. I want this wave to lead to a meaningfully improved culture.
 

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