As more women come forward to accuse Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) of unwanted touching and other forms of sexual harassment, the embattled lawmaker issued another statement on Thanksgiving Day apologizing for his behavior and vowing to be “much more careful and sensitive” going forward.
Yet the statement appears to downplay recent allegations that Franken grabbed the buttocks of women who had asked to pose with him for photos at political events, with the senator describing the interactions as “greetings or embraces.”
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations,” Franken wrote. “I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many. Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that.”
Franken continued that he’s been thinking a lot in the days since the accusations surfaced about “how that could happen.”
“I recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations. I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again. And let me say again to Minnesotans that I’m sorry for putting them through this and I’m committed to regaining their trust.”
Two women told the Huffington Post this week that Franken groped them while posing for photos at Democratic Party events in 2008, one claiming that the senator also ogled her chest and suggested he accompany her to the bathroom. The women did not give their names, but said they wanted to come forward to show that Franken has had a long pattern of misbehavior with women.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.