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Franken Calls for Ethics Investigation Into Himself

'I don’t know what was in my head ... and it doesn’t matter. There's no excuse'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2017 2:48 PM CST

(Newser) – Sen. Al Franken initially deflected, saying he was attempting to be funny, after being accused Thursday of groping Leeann Tweeden, a radio host who says the then-comedian grabbed her breasts during a flight home from a 2006 USO tour after forcing a kiss on her during a skit. USA Today reports Franken later issued a longer apology to "everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women." He added: “I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself." Franken says he's asking for an ethics investigation into his behavior and he "will gladly cooperate." Here's what else you need to know:

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  • Franken isn't the only one calling for an investigation. The Hill reports Sen. Mitch McConnell is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to review the allegations. "Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable," the Senate Majority Leader says.
  • The calls are also coming from inside Franken's own party. “The behavior described is completely unacceptable," the Kansas City Star quotes Sen. Claire McCaskill as saying. "Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.”
  • And Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she's "glad" Franken "has agreed to cooperate with an ethics investigation." "We're not going to fix the problems of sexual harassment and assault until men take responsibility for their actions and change their behavior," the Hill quotes Warren as saying.
  • The Washington Post looks at what kind of repercussions Franken could face from the unlikely possibility he resigns to the even more unlikely possibility he's expelled, which hasn't happened in 155 years.

  • While the Post finds it unlikely, calls for Franken's resignation are already starting, even from past supporters like Eve Peyser at Vice. "Before today, I admired Franken. I agree with him on policy. But it doesn't matter. Politicians should be held to a high moral standard."
  • And Mark Joseph Stern at Slate says Franken must resign to "preserve whatever moral standing" the Democrats have. "There is no rational reason to doubt the truth of Tweeden's accusations, no legitimate defense of Franken's actions, and no ambiguity here at all."
  • Ezra Klein at Vox writes that sexual assault is a problem among men of all political stripes, or no political stripes at all, and while Franken should be held accountable, so too should President Trump, who "has more than a dozen-well-documented, on-the-record allegations of sexual assault against him."
  • Meanwhile, Fox News reports Roy Moore is accusing Mitch McConnell of a double standard for only asking for an investigation into Franken while calling on Moore to drop out of his Senate race over his alleged misconduct.
  • Finally, Leeann Tweeden says she accepts Franken's apology, doesn't think he should resign, and isn't calling for an investigation, according to Time. She says people make mistakes.
(Read more Al Franken stories.)

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