Politics

Dems Are Calling Franken’s Sexual Assault ‘Harassment’

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Democrats are doing the very best to not call Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota’s groping and unwanted advances of news anchor Leeann Tweeden sexual assault.

Tweeden claims that Franken sexually harassed and assaulted her on a number of occasions during a USO entertainment tour in the Middle East in 2006. Franken, a former writer and actor for “Saturday Night Live,” also reportedly wrote a script for a USO show that had him kissing Tweeden. She claims he harassed her during rehearsals.

She also says that she found a photo after returning home from the tour that shows Franken with his hands over her breasts and smiling.

Democrats are not calling Franken’s actions assault, a very different response than members of the party and Democrats in Congress have had towards sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and Republicans in general.

“Harassment is always wrong and should always be called out. I am sad and disappointed about this inappropriate behavior. This does not reflect the Al Franken I have known for 12 years and I’m glad he has apologized and called for an investigation,” Stephanie Schriock, a self-identified Democrat and president of EMILY’s List, tweeted Thursday afternoon.

A number of female Democratic senators — Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Patty Murray of Washington — condemned Franken’s action Thursday, but stopped short of saying Franken sexually assaulted or even harassed Tweeden.

McCaskill called Franken’s actions “inappropriate conduct.” Klobuchar did not mention any of the actions but said she “strongly condemn(ed) this behavior.” Gillibrand called the “allegations are very troubling and very concerning,” and Murray said it was “unacceptable behavior.”

Tweeden herself described the allegations in a story as unwanted, forcible sexual advances, which makes the response from Democrats all the more confusing.

“You (Franken) knew exactly what you were doing,” Tweeden wrote. “You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.”

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