The allegations against Franken -- and how he's responded

Sen. Al Franken
Sen. Al Franken discusses politics at a SiriusXM Town Hall with host Julie Mason and The Hill's Bob Cusack on May 31 in New York City.
Cindy Ord | Getty Images for SiriusXM

Several women have accused Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of touching them inappropriately, without consent, during photo opportunities, at political events or on celebrity tours to military installations abroad.

When the first allegation surfaced in mid-November, his Democratic colleagues quickly condemned his actions and called for an ethics investigation, which was echoed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Franken also said he would welcome it. But there were no widespread calls for Franken's resignation.

That changed on Wednesday, when a flood of Senate Democrats — and several of Minnesota's U.S. House Democrats — began to say publicly that Franken should go.

A Democratic official who has spoken to Franken and key aides told MPR News that Franken will resign Thursday. After MPR News reported the planned resignation, a tweet from Franken's official account said it was "not accurate."

"No final decision has been made and the senator is still talking with his family," the tweet said. The senator is expected to make an announcement sometime Thursday.

Here's a look at the allegations that have been made against Franken and how the two-term senator has responded.

Nov. 16: USO tour in 2006

The allegation

Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden said Franken forcibly kissed her and groped her during a 2006 USO tour.

She posted her allegations, including a photo of Franken with her, on the website of KABC, the station where is a morning radio show host.

The photo shows Franken posing in a joking manner, smiling at the camera with his hands on or near her chest as she naps wearing a flak jacket aboard a military plane. Both had been performing for military personnel in Afghanistan two years before the one-time "Saturday Night Live" comedian was elected to the Senate.

Franken's response

In a statement, Franken apologized to Tweeden and his constituents but said that he remembered the rehearsal differently.

"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive," he wrote.

Of the photo, Franken said: "I look at it now, and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture."

Nov. 20: Minnesota State Fair photo op in 2010

The allegation

Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken grabbed her buttocks while taking a picture with her at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair.

According to CNN, Menz met Franken and other politicians while at a radio station booth that her father's business was sponsoring.

The senator "pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear. It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek," she told CNN.

Franken's response

In a statement to CNN, Franken said he doesn't remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt "badly" that she felt disrespected.

"I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don't remember taking this picture," Franken said. "I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected."

Nov. 22: Senate campaign events in 2007 and 2008

The allegation

Two women, speaking to the Huffington Post on condition of anonymity, say Franken touched their buttocks during events for his first Senate campaign.

The women said the events occurred in Minneapolis in 2007 and 2008.

Franken's response

Franken said in a statement, "It's difficult to respond to anonymous accusers, and I don't remember those campaign events."

Nov. 30: USO tour in 2003

The allegation

Sharing her story with CNN, Stephanie Kemplin said Franken cupped her breast during a 2003 photo op while she was deployed in Kuwait.

Kemplin told CNN that when Franken put his arm around her, "he groped my right breast. He kept his hand all the way over on my breast."

She said the touching lasted between five to 10 seconds. "It was long enough that he should have known if it was an accident," she said.

Kemplin said she eventually turned her body to shift Franken's hand off her breast before their picture was taken.

Franken's response

A Franken spokesperson said in a statement that he "takes thousands of photos and has met tens of thousands of people and he has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct."

Nov. 30: Air America event in 2006

The allegation

A former New England elected official told Jezebel that Franken tried to kiss her onstage at an event in 2006. The woman requested anonymity, saying she wanted her name to be "associated with my own accomplishments and not publicly linked to a man's bad behavior."

She said she was invited to appear as a guest in a live taping of Franken's Air America radio show. She said that after the interview, as she reached out to shake Franken's hand, he leaned toward her "with his mouth open." The woman said she turned her head away and he ended up "land(ing) a wet, open-mouthed kiss awkwardly on my cheek."

Franken's response

In a statement, a Franken spokesperson repeated that the senator "has never intentionally engaged in this kind of conduct."

Dec. 6: Radio show taping in 2006

The allegation

A woman identified as a former Democratic congressional aide tells Politico that Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006. Politico says it is withholding the aide's name to "protect her identity."

In a statement, Franken denies the accusation as "categorically not true."

According to Politico, the woman said Franken pursued her after her boss had left and she was collecting her belongings. She said she ducked to avoid his lips, and that Franken told her: "It's my right as an entertainer."

Franken's response

Franken, in his statement, said the idea he would claim such conduct as a right as an entertainer was "preposterous," and that the allegation was "categorically not true."

Dec. 6: Inauguration photo op in 2009

The allegation

Journalist Tina Dupuy says the senator groped her in 2009 while they took a photo together.

Writing in The Atlantic, she said it happened during a Media Matters party during President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

"We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze. Then he squeezed. At least twice," she wrote.

Dupuy said it "quick; he knew exactly what he was doing."

Franken's response

Franken's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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