November 17, 2017 09:01 AM
A Los Angeles radio anchor says Democratic Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed her during a 2006 USO tour. The host says Franken posed for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.
Leeann Tweeden accuses Minnesota's Franken in an essay on the website of California radio station KABC, where she anchors a morning talk show. Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit for the pair during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East and insisted they practice a kiss during rehearsal.
Tweeden says she tried to resist.
"He just came at me. He put his hand on teh back of my head, and mashed his face into mine. It happened so fast. He mashed his lips against my face, and stuck his tongue in my mouth. I pushed him off with my hands. I almost punched him. My hands still clench into fists when I see him. I told him if you ever do that to me again, I won't be as nice about it the second time around."
Then they proceed to do the show for the troops. She told the press she made sure she was never alone with him after that. But they did have to work together. Tweeden said he treated poorly for the rest of the tour. And then, on the way home, a photo with both Franken and Tweeden was taken.
Tweeden was sleeping, and Franken's hands are over her breasts. He's also smiling at the camera. "I knew from the context of the entire trip and what happened during the entire two weeks, it was telling to me. He thought he could get away with it. And that it was OK, and it was funny. Is it OK when it's your mother or sister or daughter?" she asked.
She said she didn't tell anyone in charge. "What was I going to do? Be the troublemaker? I told some of my friends, and they said don't say anything, you'll never work again."
Now she said she's coming forward, after hearing so many others start sharing their stories. "It's happening to women in office buildings and restaurants. Women who don't have microphones in front of them."
She's not asking for anything, she said. As for an ethics investigation, "If Mitch McConnell wants to do that, that's his call," she said.
As for how she feels now that the story is out, she said she's still processing her emotions. "I'm not happy about it, there's still a pit in my stomach."
Franken apologized soon after Tweeden's online essay was published. She says she accepts his apology but he could have apologized earlier. Tweeden says she has no reason not to accept his apology. She says people make mistakes. She isn't calling for an ethics investigation or for the Minnesota senator to step down, but says she came forward hoping to inspire others to tell their stories.
Click for full Senator Franken made this statement early Thursday morning:
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it.”
Updated: November 17, 2017 09:01 AM
Created: November 16, 2017 10:14 AM
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