Numerous photos and videos have surfaced of the 2006 USO tour during which radio host Leeann Tweeden says Sen. Al Franken sexually harassed her.
Tweeden, who was then a model, traveled to the Middle East with Franken and a number of other entertainers. During the trip, she says that Franken wrote a sketch for them to act out that involved them kissing. She says that he then badgered her into rehearsing the sketch and then forcibly sticking his tongue in her mouth. She also posted a photo of Franken jokingly groping her over a Kevlar vest while she slept.
Maybe it's because there's rarely photo proof of allegations, but this photo of Sen. Al Franken groping @LeeannTweeden when she was sleeping on their way back from Afghanistan is horrifying https://t.co/5xXnRtnbRp pic.twitter.com/qI4tV7TclV
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) November 16, 2017
Numerous photos and videos have surfaced since the allegations were made. One video shows the two on stage together.
Some on Twitter, perhaps unfairly, accused Tweeden of being sexually aggressive during the tour because hyperpartisanship has inevitably spilled into the sexual misconduct arena.
— Christopher Bouzy (@cbouzy) November 20, 2017
In an interview with CNN, Tweeden said that she has “been angry about” the incidents “for over 10 years.”
“To this day I talk about it and my hand clenches into a fist,” Tweeden said.
Recalling the forced kiss, Tweeden said 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.”
She said the groping photo was Franken’s way of getting the “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?”
Asked if Franken should step down, Tweeden replied, “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.”
Franken apologized for the groping photo, saying it was a bad joke, but said he did not recall the kiss the same way.
“I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” he said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
He later issued a longer apology and called for an ethics investigation into himself.
On Monday, a second woman came forward to accuse Franken of groping, saying he grabbed her butt at a state fair in 2010.
Lindsay Menz, 33, told CNN that Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear. It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”
“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”
Franken said he did not recall the photo but apologized if Menz felt “disrespected.”
“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”