Sen. Al Franken Seeks to Regain Trust After ‘Shock’ Sexual Harassment Claims

As he returned to the Capitol, he took questions from the Capitol Hill press corps

A chastened Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken returned to work at the Capitol Monday, eager to win back the trust of his constituents in the wake of a sex harassment scandal but leaving many questions about his political future unanswered.

Franken has said he won't resign after three women alleged Franken grabbed their buttocks during campaign events and a fourth said Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her while she was sleeping during a 2006 USO tour.

But when he was asked Monday what the bar is for his resignation, he wouldn't speculate. And he didn't elaborate on why he was unable to say whether more women would come forward with similar allegations against him.

"If you had asked me two weeks ago, would any woman come forward with an allegation like this, I would have said no, and so I cannot speculate," Franken said at a short news conference outside his office. "This has been a shock and it's been extremely humbling."

He also told The Associated Press Monday that it's too early to decide whether he'll run for a third term in 2020. Instead, he's focused on returning to work on Monday working to regain voters' trust over time.

While he wouldn't say what would force him to resign, he said he was taking responsibility for what he's been accused of by apologizing, being accountable by cooperating with a Senate Ethics Committee investigation and would try to learn from his mistakes so he could add to the conversation on sexual harassment going forward.

Franken initially avoided the public eye when allegations first surfaced earlier this month, but has given interviews in the last few days expressing remorse over what happened.

He told CBS in an interview aired Monday that "I can't say I haven't" groped people during the thousands of pictures he's taken with people "sometimes in chaotic and crowded situations."

Franken still disputes Leeann Tweeden's account of a forced kiss on their USO tour more than a dacade ago, calling it a "normal rehearsal" for a skit the two were performing. And he said he never intentionally grabbed or squeezed a woman's buttocks.

But he said he's taking responsibility and says it's important "that we listen to women." He said he was grateful that Tweeden accepted his apology to her.

"It's been clear that there are some women — and one is too many — who feel that I have done something disrespectful and that's hurt them and for that I am tremendously sorry," Franken said. "I know that I am going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances, much more careful, much more sensitive and that this will not happen again going forward."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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