Democratic Sen. Al Franken, in his first press conference since allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct, said Monday that he was “sorry” but hopes to regain the public’s trust and confidence by getting “back to work.”
And the senator made clear he has no plans to resign.
“It’s going to take a long time to regain people’s trust, but I hope that starts today by getting back to work,” he said outside his Capitol Hill office. “I’ve been trying to take responsibility. ... I am going to be accountable.”
The Minnesota lawmaker first broke his silence on the issue Sunday, telling state-based newspaper and radio reporters that he was “ashamed” by his behavior and “sorry” for his actions but that he would not resign from Congress.
Four women have publicly said Franken groped them, including one who said he forcibly kissed her and others who say he grabbed them at photo opportunities.
“I take a lot of pictures,” he said Monday.
Franken said he didn't remember such actions regarding the pictures but understood the women felt disrespected.
“For that I am tremendously sorry,” he said. “I am going to have to be much more conscious when in these circumstances, much more careful, much more sensitive. ... This will not happen again.”
Franken also echoed his earlier apologies by saying, “I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed. I’m going to start my job, and go back to work.”
The first claim against Franken emerged nearly two weeks ago, when Leeann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio host, said the senator forcibly kissed and groped her during a 2006 USO tour, before he was elected to the Senate.
She said Franken kissed her while rehearsing a sketch. And later on the tour, Franken was photographed with his hands over Tweeden’s breasts, grinning at the camera, as she slept.
The two-term senator has repeatedly apologized to Tweeden and says he will cooperate with a Senate ethics investigation.
Franken told Minnesota Public Radio on Sunday that the photo was “inexcusable.”
“She ... didn't have any ability to consent,” he said. “She had every right to feel violated by that photo. I have apologized to her, and I was very grateful that she accepted my apology.”
The second allegation against Franken was reported several days after Tweeden's.
Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken grabbed her buttocks in 2010 when they posed together for a picture at a Minnesota state fair, while he was a senator.
Two other women have since anonymously reported such incidents to the Huffington Post. One woman said Franken groped her in 2007 during a photo at the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus. The other said he cupped her backside with his hand in 2008 and suggested that they go to the bathroom together at a Democratic fundraiser in Minneapolis.
The senator said last week that he feels badly that Menz felt “disrespected” but does not remember the photograph being taken.
He told the Star Tribune of Minnesota on Sunday that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” by his actions but wouldn't resign.
The senator also told the newspaper that he spent the past week “thinking about how that could happen. And I just recognize that I need to be more careful and a lot more sensitive in these situations.”
He said he didn’t expect similar allegations would follow.
“I certainly hope not,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.