On Thursday morning, as the sun was peeking over the Capitol dome in Washington DC, a radio host on the west coast published a bombshell report claiming that Senator Al Franken groped her and forced his tongue into her mouth while they were both on a United Service Organizations tour in 2006.
Franken’s staff was caught off guard by the claims and scrambled to respond — Rare spent just under half an hour on hold with his Washington D.C. office, we listened to Motzart, Beethoven, Vivaldi and Bach but never managed get a staffer on the phone. Finally, his office put out the following response:
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.
The photo that Franken is referring to is a pretty damning image that shows him mock-groping the unconscious Leeann Tweeden.
— Leeann Tweeden (@LeeannTweeden) November 16, 2017
In her post Tweeden, who now hosts a radio show on KABC, writes “[H]e came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.” She stated that the experience left her feeling “disgusting and violated.”
Sexual harassment on Capitol Hill has come to the foreground as accusations against Alabama senate candidate Roy Moore continue to pile up. In addition, a CNN story cited more than fifty employees on the Hill who describe a pervasive atmosphere of sexual harassment — even an unwritten “creep list” of the lawmakers and staffers known to prey on female interns and staffers.
In response to the allegations against Franken, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the following statement:
As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.
McConnell issued a blistering statement in response to the claims against Roy Moore, saying that he believes the Alabaman’s accusers and even going so far as to suggest considering a write-in candidate for the seat. But Moore wasn’t taking that laying down, sending out this tweet last night:
The backlash against Al Franken has been swift, while a handful of republicans have come out swinging at the popular democrat, the left side of the aisle has been silent. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) stated that he hadn’t seen the story, and that he will review it before reacting. But a number of left-leaning activists, like Jordan Uhl aren’t pulling punches.
Defending Al Franken because he has a "D" after his name is a very dumb hill to die on.
Don't be that person.
— jordan (@JordanUhl) November 16, 2017
Holly O’Reilly, who was an organizer of “March for Truth” — a protest seeking clarification on President Trump’s ties with Russia — echoed a similar statement.
Al Franken should resign.
Trump should be impeached.
Bill Clinton should play golf for the rest of his life.
Roy Moore should drop out of the race.
And it's time for women to take over.
This is not a D or R issue.
Now it's time to #ElectWomen
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 16, 2017
But if Franken does resign, it’s hardly a blow for the Democrats, as The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel points out:
If Franken resigned, a Dem Governor would replace him w a Dem facing a good 2018 election environment. Makes it easier for Dems to call for him to go.
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 16, 2017