Reaction from both parties continues to pour in after a female radio host claimed that Al Franken, now Minnesota’s junior Democratic senator, made a lewd gesture while she was sleeping aboard a military plane on her way home from a USO tour several years ago.
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The host, Leeann Tweeden also claimed he forcibly kissed her when they were performing together for troops overseas.
Franken has since apologized for the incident, writing in a statement Thursday, “While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called for an ethics investigation into the allegations against Franken, a move that also garnered support from his Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
"As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable-in the workplace or anywhere else,” McConnell said in a statement on Thursday.
“Sexual harassment is never acceptable and must not be tolerated,” Schumer said, “I hope and expect that the Ethics Committee will fully investigate this troubling incident, as they should with any credible allegation of sexual harassment.”
Franken also called for an ethics investigation, adding "I will gladly cooperate."
Other Democratic senators have since weighed in on the allegations, supporting an ethics investigation into Franken’s alleged actions.
There is never an excuse for this behavior—ever. What Senator Franken did was wrong, and it should be referred to the Ethics Committee for review.— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) November 16, 2017
Here’s my statement on the need for an ethics investigation: https://t.co/YhDBrux4oj— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar)November 16, 2017
Re Al Franken: I’m shocked and concerned. The behavior described is completely unacceptable. Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) November 16, 2017
The allegations against Senator Franken are serious and unacceptable. There should be an ethics investigation.— Sen. Debbie Stabenow (@SenStabenow) November 16, 2017
The conduct described here is completely unacceptable and must be taken extremely seriously. Actions like that weren't funny then and they aren't funny now. I fully support an ethics committee investigation. https://t.co/zAoQeblrHj— Sen. Maggie Hassan (@SenatorHassan) November 16, 2017
I am deeply troubled by the allegations against Senator Franken and I believe there should be an ethics Investigation into the matter. Sexual harassment is not a joke and must always be taken seriously.— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) November 16, 2017
The allegations against Sen. Franken are serious. Harassment in any setting is clearly unacceptable. The Ethics Committee should investigate this matter.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 16, 2017
I support an ethics committee investigation into these accusations and I hope this latest example of the deep problems on this front spurs continued action to address it. https://t.co/i0ooPDuG4E— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) November 16, 2017
This is deeply disappointing and this type of behavior is unacceptable. I support the Ethics Committee process and investigation into this inappropriate conduct. I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken. https://t.co/stSf3pdY0a— Senator Cortez Masto (@SenCortezMasto) November 16, 2017
Such behavior is unacceptable. Period. https://t.co/p4RBy4x7rn— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) November 16, 2017
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) have both called on either sitting Democratic senators or various Democratic candidates for the U.S. House to return campaign contributions they have received from Franken.
“These allegations are disgusting and Democrats who took Senator Franken’s campaign money need to take action,” said NRCC Communications Director Matt Gorman.
“After today’s shocking revelations regarding Senator Al Franken’s behavior towards women, Tammy Baldwin must denounce her Democrat colleague and return campaign donations she has received from him,” NRSC communications director Katie Martin wrote in an e-mail.