November 27, 2017 05:27 PM
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken said he is asking people for forgiveness, and plans to address recent sexual misconduct allegations against him directly with Minnesotans.
"The very difficult thing about this is that it's given people reason to believe I don't respect them," Franken said in an interview with KSTP Monday morning. "Especially people who expect me to be a champion and who have looked at me to be a champion of women."
He went on to say, "I have to regain the trust of people I've let down" and that he is "going to be working as hard as I can in the Senate."
Franken also said he plans to reach out to Minnesotans when he returns to the state: "I will be speaking to people, I will be speaking to a lot of women who have been supporters of mine."
Franken's latest comments continued to indicate the Democratic senator does not have plans to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
The first woman to come forward was Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden. She released a photo earlier this month showing the then-comedian grinning while reaching toward her chest, as if to grope her, as she slept on a military aircraft during a USO tour in 2006.
Tweeden said Franken also forcibly kissed her while rehearsing for a USO performance; Franken has said he has a different recollection of that rehearsal.
Three other women allege Franken grabbed their buttocks while posing with them for photos during separate events in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
"I take thousands of pictures with constituents, with people around Minnesota, around the country," Franken said during his KSTP interview. "The stories that I have crossed a line with someone; any number is too many. I'm a warm person; I hug people. I would never intentionally do that and what I've learned is that I'm going to have to be more careful in these encounters or in these situations. I respect that you have to listen to women, that you have to hear what they're saying; I respect their experience and that's why I apologized."
Franken's interviews with Minnesota media outlets were the first he's granted since being swept into a nationwide tide of sexual misconduct allegations.
Franken faces a Senate ethics investigation — which he said he welcomed in the wake of Tweeden's allegation — though it's unclear when that review may begin. Franken said he will fully cooperate.
The senator spent the holiday break with his wife and the rest of his family. He said his first order of business back Monday will be to ask tough questions about proposed tax legislation.
He also said he plans to take his seat on the dais for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning. He said he will not resign his seat on that committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Updated: November 27, 2017 05:27 PM
Created: November 27, 2017 10:35 AM
(Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company