Minnesota Senator Al Franken denied “many” of the accusations of sexual misconduct Thursday while announcing his resignation from the Senate in a rambling, self-serving speech that was widely reviled even before it concluded.
Franken, who took office in 2009, appeared defiant during his roughly 15-minute speech on the Senate floor and stated, “I’ll be fine” after saying he remembered many of the alleged accusations made against him “differently” than his accusers.
The 66-year-old Democrat said the “MeToo” movement that reignited in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations several months ago was a moment of change for how women are treated both in the workplace and across the country. But he also made reference to allegations of predatory behavior by Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore and harassment and assault claims against President Donald Trump, who offered his support for Moore this week.
Franken said it was “ironic” that Trump, who boasted of sexually assaulting women in the Access Hollywood recording in 2005, “sits in the Oval Office” while the former Saturday Night Live writer had to resign.
“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said.
Franken claimed he was “shocked” and “upset” when allegations were first made against him, but also backtracked. Franken had previously apologized for his behavior, but also stated that the apology was mistaken for an admission of guilt.
“Some of the allegations against me are not true, and I remember some of them very differently,” he said.
The speech was not received well by many on social media, with users believing Franken was not apologetic for his alleged actions.
Some even questioned Franken's motives, suggesting he was more a martyr for Demcorats dealing with the resignation of Michigan Rep. John Conyers and his accusations of sexual harassment in order to regain a sort of moral high-ground over Republicans in support of Moore.
Franken’s resignation followed accusations of sexual misconduct by at least eight women over the last month. Many of the accusers described alleged incidents of Franken attempting to kiss them without consent or groping them. Franken was elected Minnesota’s junior senator in 2009 in a special election, and many of the accusations occurred before his political career began.
The first accusation came last month from a Los Angeles radio host and former model, Leann Tweeden. She claimed Franken forcibly kissed her while they were performing during a USO tour in 2006, and then groped her breasts while she slept on a flight.
Another accuser, Stephanie Menz, stated Franken put his hand over backside while they posed for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two other anonymous accusers had similar stories of Franken, dating as far back as 2007.
Reporter Tina Dupuy was the eighth accuser to come forward Wednesday. She said Franken also grabbed her rear end during a party for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008.
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