The editorial board at Minnesota’s biggest newspaper wrote Monday that it might not be possible for Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) to “regain Minnesotans’ trust” in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.
What was Franken accused of?
Leeann Tweeden, now a news anchor, recently accused Franken of sexually harassing her while they were part of a 2006 USO tour. When she first made her accusations, Tweeden also shared a picture of Franken appearing to grope her breasts while she slept.
Other women have accused Franken of groping them while taking photos.
Franken told reporters Monday that he apologizes to those “who feel that I have done something disrespectful or that hurt them. For that, I am tremendously sorry."
What did the editorial say?
The editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote that Franken professed “his shame and embarrassment” over the matter.
“That was a necessary move — Minnesotans and the country at large deserved to hear from him,” they wrote. “But his apology falls lamentably short in several respects.”
They noted that Franken apologized, “but for what, exactly?”
He said he does not recall groping and said he "would never intentionally" squeeze or grope a woman but often hugs people. Is he suggesting these women could not distinguish between a friendly embrace and groping? Or that at his age he somehow groped unintentionally? Can one credibly apologize for acts without acknowledging they occurred?
The editorial board noted that Franken will face an ethics investigation and stands on “politically shaky ground.”
“Under such circumstances, Franken's apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to ‘I'm sorry for what you think I did,’” they wrote:
Franken may just be trying to ride out the storm, as is the case too often these days. After all, President Donald Trump survived multiple sexual misconduct allegations to become president, and it's possible that Roy Moore will become Alabama's next senator despite credible allegations that he molested a 14-year-old and repeatedly approached underage teens. Moore's conduct is in a different league from what Franken is accused of, but none of it is acceptable.
They argued that while “Franken has declared himself ready to get back to work,” the scandal will diminish his “effectiveness” on Democratic legislative priorities.
“Franken is right — he has much to do to regain Minnesotans' trust. It may not be possible. As he continues his reflection, we urge the senator to consider what is best for Minnesota and to weigh that more heavily than what might be best for his political career,” they concluded.
What do polls say?
A recent KSTP/SurveyUSA poll found that Franken’s approval rating plummeted to 36 percent — down from 53 percent last year — in the aftermath of the allegations.
Just 22 percent said Franken should stay in office, while 33 percent said he should resign. Another 26 percent said Franken’s future should be determined after the Senate Ethics Committee’s probe into the matter.