There’s always more.
Once you have one accuser of sexual impropriety, regarding men in a position of power, that first accusation is almost immediately followed by another.
Then another… and another… and another…
Welcome to the life of Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
On Wednesday, another woman came forward with an allegation of inappropriate behavior by Franken.
Previously, Franken has been accused of forcibly kissing, and fondling radio host/model Leeann Tweeden during a USO show appearance.
Several other women have claimed he groped them during photo-ops, with at least one saying he suggested they find a bathroom (presumably for sex).
Still another woman, an elected official, who has chosen to remain anonymous, said that during a live show, Franken tried to inappropriately kiss her, as well.
This latest accuser follows that pattern of inappropriate behavior quite closely.
She was a Democratic congressional aide, and Franken cornered her after a taping of his show in 2006.
The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face.
The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken’s lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”
Somebody has lost his mind.
“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide said in an interview. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”
The former staffer, who was in her mid-20s at the time of the incident, said she did not respond to Franken.
This incident was before Franken was in the Senate, but at a time when he was laying the groundwork and preparing himself for a run.
The aide said she had never met Franken before this day.
Franken has answered the litany of accusations by claiming that he did not recall acting inappropriately, and apologizing to the women – not for wrongdoing, but because they somehow misinterpreted the situation.
See, it’s not him, but them.
“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,” Franken said in a statement to POLITICO.
Well, maybe he’s telling the truth. Maybe he isn’t.
Two former colleagues of the woman have told Politico that they were made aware of the accusations, with one saying the woman talked about the incident shortly after it happened, and another saying she was told in 2009 or 2010.
The aide, a Democrat, says that she’s not trying to get Franken out of office. She just wants him to acknowledge his bad behavior.
“His resignation is not the top of the list there. That’s not my point. It’s not up to me what he does,” the former staffer said.
Except he should go. He’s shown a lack of character that makes him unfit for office. Such behavior should not be rewarded with a job creating policy for the rest of the nation to live by.
The former staffer said a more direct statement of culpability – not just differing recollections of events, as Franken has offered in apologizing to other women – could help shift the national conversation about sexual assault and push harassers to take ownership of their behavior.
“I don’t want to be in the position of deciding whether to tell this story but I’m not the person who put me in that position. He did that,” the woman said. “I think for this moment in time to lead to meaningful change there has to be more than ‘I’m ashamed but I remember things differently’ accounting.”
Just as I said. His non-apology apology just doesn’t cut it.
She also went on to say that after Trump’s 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording was released, it prompted her to begin speaking more openly with those around her about her own experience.
“When it really started impacting me in more of a ‘I’m really angry about about this’ way was last fall when the Trump tape came out,” the former aide said. “Hearing Donald Trump say essentially the same thing that Al Franken said to me, which was ‘It’s my right as an entertainer,’ that was a real trigger,” she continued.
The former staffer says she was particularly shaken after seeing Franken on TV responding to the Trump tape last year. Franken dismissed Trump’s excuse that he was just engaging in “locker room talk” and joked that maybe Trump worked out with Roger Ailes, the now deceased Fox News chairman who was forced to resign in 2016 amid allegations he sexually harassed several Fox employees.
It’s funny how these things come back to bite you on the butt, isn’t it?
“It was a moment in time where I told a number of my friends about my experience with Franken because I saw him on the news being asked about the Trump tape and I felt like it was really hypocritical,” the former staffer said. “It’s a power dynamic and the fact that Donald Trump could say that was not much different from the fact that Al Franken could say it.”
Actually, there’s no difference, at all.
Franken attempted to separate himself from Trump’s behavior, but the only real difference is that one is much richer than the other, and they have different political affiliations. That’s it.
“I do feel this very heavy responsibility to speak the truth,” the former staffer said. “I don’t think that there are different versions of truth and that’s what’s bothered me a lot about [his] responses.”
There are no different versions of truth. There is only truth. Some love it. Some loathe it. Others dread it.
You can probably take a really solid guess as to which category Franken falls into.