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'Embarrassed and Ashamed' Franken Emerges From Hiding; Returns to Work

November 27, 2017 05:55 PM

Democratic Sen. Al Franken says he knows he "let a lot of people down" - the people of Minnesota, colleagues, and staff - in the face of sexually inappropriate behavior. He's vowing to regain their trust.

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Speaking outside his Senate office, Franken told reporters on Monday that many people counted on him to be a champion for women. Instead, he is embarrassed and is apologizing after one woman alleges Franken forcibly kissed her on a USO tour and took a sexually suggestive photo while she was sleeping.

Three other women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate campaign events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

"This has been a shock, and extremely humbling. I am embarrassed, I feel ashamed," said Franken, addressing the allegations at the press conference.

Franken dismissed any talk of resigning from the Senate and said he would cooperate with an Ethics Committee investigation. He said it is too early to decide whether he will run for a third term in 2020.

"I'm going to try and learn from my mistakes, and in doing so, I have been doing a lot of reflecting. I want to be someone who adds something to this conversation and I hope I can do that," said Franken.

Franken tells The Associated Press that he's focused on returning to work on Monday and that he'll work to regain voters' trust. Franken initially avoided the public eye when allegations first surfaced earlier this month.

Franken had disappeared from public sight and missed senate votes since the allegations surfaced more than a week ago. Sunday, in three interviews with select news organizations, he said he doesn't remember if he ever touched a woman inappropriately while photos were being taken.
    
In an interview aired by CBS Monday, Franken says: "I take thousands and thousands of pictures, sometimes in chaotic and crowded situations. I can't say I haven't done that. I'm very sorry if these women experienced that."
    
Franken added that he has to be "a lot more careful" when he meets someone: "I'm going to make sure that this does not happen again."

Franken says he's "embarrassed and ashamed" amid sexual misconduct allegations, but says he plans to continue his work in Congress.
  
Franken tells Minnesota Public Radio he's trying to handle allegations "in a way that adds to an important conversation." He says his goal is "to be a better public servant and a better man."
    
Los Angeles radio news anchor Leann Tweeden released a photo showing the then-comedian reaching out, as if to grope her, while she slept on a military aircraft in 2006. Franken says the photo is "inexcusable."
    
Three other women say Franken grabbed their buttocks during photos ops. Franken says that isn't something he'd intentionally do.

Moving forward, he said he's committed to regaining people's trust.

"I know that it's going to take time. I'm ready to start that process, and it starts with going back to work today," Franken said. "I am going to be accountable. We are going to cooperate completely with the ethics investigation."


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