The events that led to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) occurred during a 2006 USO tour. Franken, then a comedian, was on the tour with Leeann Tweeden, both who are pictured in newly released photos from the Defense Department.
Franken allegedly forced his tongue into Tweeden’s mouth after cajoling her into rehearsing a scene, then later had someone photograph him “groping” her while she slept. Tweeden, a TV host and sports broadcaster, came out Thursday and provided as proof a photo of Franken making an inappropriate gesture.
In an interview (see below), Tweeden said she isn’t looking for Franken to resign; rather, she says she was afraid to reveal the incident years ago but felt compelled to do so know. She said that perhaps other women have had a similar experience to hers with the comedian turned lawmaker.
Tweeden also revealed that someone contacted her saying she had a similar experience with Franken, but that the call had not yet been returned.
According to Tweeden, Franken had written a script that included a “moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss.’ I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.”
She said Franken insisted they rehearse the scene, and that she protested but eventually agreed. “We did the line leading up to the kiss, and then, he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth,” she wrote. After extracting herself from the situation, she had to perform opposite him.
In the taped interview given Thursday, Tweeden said, “I had to go out on stage with this guy, who just done this to me five minutes before, and act like he’s my best friend.”
The photos just released were taken during the USO Sergeant Major of the Army’s 2006 Hope and Freedom Tour. According to The Washington Examiner, “Two of the images were taken Dec. 16, 2006, at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul. A third was taken Dec. 15, 2006, at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. In a fourth image from Camp Arifjan, taken Dec. 14, 2006, Tweeden and Franken, along with country singer Darryl Worley, sign autographs.”
Tweeden and Franken can be seen working together in the photos below.
In another video (see below) Tweeden said she was embarrassed that the photo of Franken gesturing towards her breasts was circulated among colleagues and that she was upset Franken felt entitled to “grope” her in that way. She said although it was likely a joke, it speaks to the mentality that Franken felt he could “get away with it.”
The model and sports commentator said she felt belittled and ashamed by the incident.
Franken himself has asked for an investigation into his behavior and apologized.
Leeann Tweeden on Al Franken: “People make mistakes, I’m not calling for him to step down. That’s not my place to say that.” pic.twitter.com/BVKuRG7Utl
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) November 16, 2017
Leeann Tweeden, who has accused Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct, recounts her story. pic.twitter.com/3oSngAtqJE
— Axios (@axios) November 16, 2017