By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In a WCCO Exclusive, Senator Al Franken is talking about the allegations against him.

“I’m not going to make any excuses. I am embarrassed and ashamed, of some of what has come out,” Franken said Sunday.

In an interview at his daughter’s home in Washington D.C., Senator Franken told WCCO’s Esme Murphy he has no intentions of stepping down. And as Esme shows us in this WCCO Exclusive, he’s committed to earning back the trust of Minnesotans.

In a 35-minute interview, Sen. Al Franken walked a line between apologizing and insisting he doesn’t recall specific groping allegations brought by four different women.

“I understand I am going to have to do everything I can going forward to be enormously sensitive, I apologize to these women,” Franken said.

The first allegation that surfaced was from radio host Leeann Tweedan, who said that during a USO tour in 2006, shortly before he announced his run for the Senate, Franken forcibly kissed her against her will.

“With Leeann Tweeden, I said I had a different recollection of the kiss we had,” Franken said.

“What is your recollection?” Murphy asked.

“My recollection is different than hers. I apologized to her and meant it and she was gracious enough to accept my apology,” Franken said.

FULL INTERVIEW: WCCO’S Esme Murphy Talks With Al Franken

Franken did unequivocally apologize for this photograph from that same trip that shows him smiling with his hands over Tweeden’s breasts.

“The picture was inexcusable and that is what I am most ashamed for,” Franken said.

Then there are the three other women: Lindsay Menz, and two who came forward anonymously in a Huffington Post article. All have similar stories claiming that Franken, while posing pictures with them, grabbed their buttocks. They say the incidents happened between 2007 and 2010, while Franken was either campaigning for the Senate or was a Senator.

“Are they mistaken that their butt was grabbed is that what you are saying?” Murphy asked.

“I am not saying that. As I said, I take thousands of photos. I don’t remember these particular photos,” Franken said.

“With all due respect, people are going to find it hard to believe that someone such as yourself wouldn’t know that they were grabbing someone’s butt,” Murphy said.

“I can understand how some people would see it that way,” Franken said.

“But have you ever placed a hand on some woman’s butt?” Murphy asked.

“I can’t say that it hasn’t happened. In crowded chaotic situations, I can’t say that I have not done that. I am very sorry if these women experienced that,” Franken said.

“Are there going to be any other women who are going to come forward? Are there any other allegations that you know of?” Murphy asked.

“If you had told me two weeks ago that women were going to come forward and say I disrespected them, I would have said no,” Franken said.

“I don’t think any of the women are using that word disrespected,” Murphy said.

“Or done anything like this,” Franken said.

“Disrespected is your word. Leeann Tweeden said you forcefully kissed her,” Murphy said.

“I know what she said,” Franken said.

“They are not using the word disrespect. People are looking at that word and saying ‘No.’ Lindsay Menz said you molested her on Facebook right afterward. I think these women feel this goes way behind disrespect,” Murphy said.

“I understand that I have a different recollection,” Franken said.

Franken says he is going back to work on Monday.

“I think I can win back the respect of the people of Minnesota and I understand I have a long way to go,” Franken said.

“So I take it that you have no intention of resigning?” Murphy asked.

“No we have an ethics process that I have agreed to cooperate with completely,” Franken said.

Franken, who was among the most aggressive of questioners during appointment hearing for President Trump’s cabinet members, says he is not going to let up on his criticism of the Trump administration.

“Can you really continue to claim the moral high ground, particularly in issues surrounding the Trump administrations Russia ties, when many people feel you have been less than transparent about these issues?” Murphy asked.

“Well I think I am a good questioner. My questions don’t go to my credibility. They go to the credibility of the witnesses,” Franken said.

“But hasn’t your credibility been undermined?” Murphy asked.

“I would say yes and I have a long way to go to win back the trust of the people of Minnesota. There are a lot of people I have let down, my friends and staff, my family down. I am just very sorry,” Franken said.

Senator Franken declined to talk about other prominent politicians and other public figures accused of sexual harassment, including President Trump, Alabama Senate Candidate Roy Moore and former CBS & PBS news anchor Charlie Rose.

RELATED: SNL Women Offer Solidarity in support of Al Franken

Sixty-five prominent DFL women signed a statement in support of Senator Franken saying, in part, “While we are discouraged by the allegations, we appreciate that he has apologized and is committed to regaining the trust of Minnesotans.”


Esme Murphy

Comments (74)
  1. If Al was grabbing the woman by the backside, she would have the same face expression as the girls and women getting groped by Joe Biden in C-Span footage.

    I don’t think the media has the right to accuse or imply wrong-doing without a guilty conviction in a court of law. That goes for public school teachers, Catholic Priests, Republicans and Democrats.

  2. Kevin Enkell says:

    Resignation is his only option.

    1. I agree he should resign . Embarrassed to have him a senator from our state. He knows what he did & his apology should have been named as to what he did to each of these women. HE has to go!!

  3. Anne Tenney says:

    Franken’s comedy history has always been based on lewd sexual jokes. I do not think he has changed just because he went into politics. He felt untouchable and empowered. When watched in senate hearing, he comes off as smug and arrogant. He is a hypocrite. I hope the voters oust him if he is not forced to resign.

  4. Lou Moller says:

    Why are people making a big deal about this. He is a member of the democratic party and is thus allowed to abuse women.

  5. Typical democrat, you can get away with almost anything if you vote the right way, including sexual assaults on women.

  6. Jim Thomas says:

    Franken is still denying everything except the photo — where he was caught red-handed. What a sleaze. He thinks it’s just going to blow over.

  7. John Dough says:

    I think he just believes what he did wasn’t that bad, done sort of jokingly and that the good stuff he does makes up for these minor, in his mind, transgressions.

  8. Mr. Franklin has disappointed me with his dancing around your questions. Mr. Franklin claims he dose not remember touching several women’s bodies. This is an example of males’ perceived right to cop-a- feel any time they want. Think, these are the people who are setting laws for women’s bodies.

  9. Now we learn why voters in Minnesota are considered the least informed in the country…

  10. What’s good for the trump is good for the senator. Only difference is the Trump then withdraws his apology and supports the Republican molester

  11. “crowded chaotic situations”? Please. Every man knows exactly when and who was involved when it involves sexual touching, even accidental. Do not insult our intelligence.

  12. Dale Warren says:

    From his statements so far, Franken is ashamed and embarrassed about what has come out—not ashamed—you will notice—about his misogynistic behavior. Each day that Conyers and Franken sit in Congress is an additional confirmation that the radical, alt-Left, anti-American, socialists, Progressive Democrat Party values political office and political power much more than protecting women from sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and sexual assault or than seeking justice for the victims of such crimes by prosecuting and punishing the women’s assailants. No sane female–or person of either gender will ever again vote for a radical, alt-Left, anti-American, socialist, Progressive Democrat at the local, state, or national level.

  13. Greg Coe says:

    Live from Minnesota, it’s Saturday Night! It’s clear from this interview, that Franken thinks his constituents are stupid.

  14. Mike Arvand says:

    All you need to know about being a pedophile, or sexual abuser in one stop. Just put that D behind your name, and make a pathetic apology and you;re good. If a vote for franken is okay, then 2 votes for Moore is better!

  15. Vincent Ford says:

    He’ll say anything to keep killing babies and continue upholding the sodomyte agenda.

  16. “ashamed, of some of what has come out,” So Frank let’s be frank here. When it is your habit to grab women’s butts it is pretty hard to distinguish which women that might be especially years later.

  17. Franken has to keep this “job” … he was never any good at being a comedian. Lose this and he’s out on the streets.

  18. What a whining, lying weasel. Resign immediately, you are embarrassing Minnesota and the Nation. There is no place in Congress for sexual perverts as evidenced in the photo molesting a sleeping co worker. Great interview Ms Murphy. Thank you for your journalistic integrity.