Al Franken accuser: ‘I’ve been angry about it … for over 10 years’
Leeann Tweeden, who has said that Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken forcibly kissed and groped her, said Thursday that Franken’s forced kiss on her years ago was “persistent” and “uncomfortable.”
Speaking on CNN’s “The Lead” with Jake Tapper on Thursday, Tweeden said that the incident, which occurred in 2006, before Franken was a senator, left her “so angry, I was in disbelief.”
“To this day I talk about it and my hand clenches into a fist,” Tweeden said.
Tweeden explained the incident happened backstage before a USO skit after Franken suggested they rehearse the kiss scene.
Despite reservations, Tweeden said she eventually agreed to it, and Franken “puts his hand on the back of my neck and comes in so fast. There was not finesse to it at all — let’s put it that way. And he just mashes his mouth to my lips. It was wet and he puts his tongue in my mouth and I push his chest away with my hands.”
Earlier Thursday, Tweeden had said Franken groped her and kissed her without her consent in 2006 while they were on a USO tour overseas. A morning news anchor on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles, she posted her story on the station’s website.
She included a photo in which Franken appears to grabbing Tweeden’s breast while she’s asleep.
In a statement to reporters, Franken said he doesn’t remember the forced kissing, but said he shouldn’t have conducted his behavior as he did in the photo.
Tweeden has accepted Franken’s apology, and told Tapper she believes the senator’s apology is “heartfelt.”
While Tweeden didn’t see the photo until after the trip, she said that looking back on it now, she recognizes Franken’s later actions during the USO trip as a “last laugh.”
“That was like his parting gift, like ‘Haha, she’s going to see that after we’re all gone,'” she said. “It was belittling. It was humiliating. Is that funny? Is that ever funny? Is that funny if that’s your wife or your daughter or your mom?”
Tweeden went on to say she’s been holding her anger about the incident inside for years.
“I’ve been angry about it, Jake, for over 10 years,” she said.
Remarking on the recent slew of sexual harassment charges that have hit various public figures, Tweeden said she empathized with the accusers, “It’s embarrassing. Why do you think there are people, there are still a lot of people who haven’t told their stories,” she said.
Franken said he would cooperate with an ethics committee investigation following remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who called for one to begin.
When asked if she thought Franken should step down, Tweeden said, “That’s not why I came out with my story. I’m not asking for him to step down for senator. if someone else calls for that, but that’s not what I’m asking.”