WASHINGTON - Sen. Al Franken said he is "embarrassed" by recent reports that he groped two women — one when he was a U.S. senator — and pledged that "this will not happen again going forward."
The Minnesota Democrat held a news conference in which he said he is "trying to take responsibility" and "learn from my mistakes."
"To all of you I just want to again say I am sorry. I know there are no magic words I can say to regain your trust and I know that’s going to take time." Franken told reporters on Capitol Hill. "I’m ready to start that process and it starts with going back to work today," he said.
Franken is the first senator to be publicly accused of sexual assault or harassment in the wake of the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein harassment scandal that has rocked the country. Two women have accused Franken of inappropriately touching them.
Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old from Texas, told CNN that the senator pulled her in close and grabbed her buttocks while the two were posing for a picture at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Leeann Tweeden said Franken, while they were on a USO tour in the Middle East to entertain U.S. troops, stuck his tongue down her throat and pretended to grope her while she was sleeping in a later picture.
Franken dismissed a question about what type of behavior should merit resignation for any lawmaker. He pledged to cooperate with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and said he “is open” to making the results public. Franken also said he "cannot speculate" if there may be additional women to come forward.
“This has been a shock, and it's been extremely humbling. I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed."
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