FACT CHECK: Did Al Franken Admit To Wrongdoing, Inappropriate Behavior?
Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont claimed Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has “acknowledged wrongdoing, [and] on several occasions, inappropriate behavior” in response to recent allegations of sexual misconduct.
Franken has only acknowledged one allegation of sexual misconduct that was captured in a widely-published photograph. He has either denied or claims to not remember other allegations of misconduct.
Franken announced Thursday that he would resign from the U.S. Senate after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct. The Democratic senator joined a litany of high-profile figures in Hollywood, politics and the media to recently be publicly accused of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Sanders attempted to cast a distinction Sunday between Franken and other prominent politicians accused of sexual misconduct.
“We have the absurdity now of a president of the United States – who basically says on a tape that everybody in this country has seen – has pride, in a sense, in assaulting women,” Sanders said on “Meet The Press.” “And he has not apologized for that, and he has not offered his resignation.”
Sanders, in contrast, credited Franken with having “acknowledged wrongdoing” and resigned.
Franken said during his resignation speech, however, that by treating allegations against him seriously, he may have given a “false impression” of guilt. “Some of the allegations against me are simply not true,” said Franken. “Others I remember very differently.”
He instead expressed confidence that a Senate Ethics Committee investigation would find him innocent. “I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a senator – nothing – has brought dishonor on this institution,” Franken said on the Senate floor. “I am confident that the Ethics Committee would agree.”
Franken has only admitted wrongdoing in one allegation of sexual misconduct to date: inappropriate behavior toward radio anchor Leeann Tweeden during an overseas comedy tour. The incident was captured in a now widely-circulated photograph.
Tweeden accused Franken of groping her while she slept and also forcedly kissing her during a rehearsal skit for troops overseas.
Franken apologized to Tweeden in a public statement, and described the photograph as “completely inappropriate,” but claimed to not remember the kissing incident the same way.
Franken issued similar statements in response to other accusations that subsequently came to light.
When a woman came forward alleging that Franken groped her while posing for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair, Franken told CNN that “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture.”
Franken has also outright denied other accusations of sexual misconduct. When a former congressional aide told Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her, Franken called the allegation “categorically not true.”
In other instances, Franken did not deny the events occurred, but denied that he intentionally did anything improper. When a veteran alleged that Franken groped her in Kuwait during an overseas comedy tour, a Franken spokesperson told CNN that Franken “never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct.”
Franken has repeatedly apologized in light of these allegations, although to date the only accuser he has publicly apologized to is Tweeden. His public apologies have instead been mostly directed at his supporters.
“I’ve let a lot of people down,” said Franken at a late-November press conference. “The people of Minnesota, my colleagues, my staff, my supporters and everyone who has counted on me to be a champion for women. To all of you I just want to again say: I am sorry.”
The offices of Sanders and Franken did not respond to a request for comment.
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