Al Franken’s accuser has a surprising take on what he should do now

Left: (Twitter/Screenshot/GMA) Right: (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Leeann Tweeden, the Los Angeles radio host who came forward with allegations that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., forcibly kissed her without her permission and groped her while she slept, said that although she didn’t initially step forward, she has been angry, and that she’s speaking out now to help empower other women to share their stories.

She also said in an exclusive interview with “Good Morning America” Friday that she doesn’t think Franken needs to step down.

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“I didn’t do this to have him step down,” Tweeden said. “I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate. You know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide. I’m not calling for him to step down. That was never my intention.”

Her motive, Tweeden said, was giving women the confidence to step forward. She said she was inspired to share her story by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., after she shared her account of sexual assault as a young congressional aide.

Tweeden came out with her allegations against Franken in an article on Wednesday. She said the incident happened in 2006 while they were working together in preparation for a USO tour to entertain U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

She said she wanted to come forward immediately, but she remained quiet because it was a “different time” and her now-husband had warned her that she would be “victimized, ” and her career would be ruined.

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“Maybe I have a platform to speak out, because if he did this to somebody else or if anybody else has stayed silent or anybody else has been the victim of any kind of abuse, maybe they can speak out and feel like they can come forward in real time and not wait a decade or longer,” Tweeden said in her “GMA” interview.

Franken admitted that Tweeden’s allegations happened and apologized Thursday to Tweeden, writing in a statement, “While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”

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Tweeden said using comedy as a facade for sexual harassment is “never funny,” and she hopes her experience will help to alter the national discourse on a topic that is engulfing both sides of the political aisle.

In confronting the allegations, Franken said that he doesn’t know “what was in my head when I took that picture,” but said that “it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now, and I feel disgusted with myself.”

Franken said he will welcome an ethics investigation, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for, and said he will fully cooperate.

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