Minnesota Sen. Al Franken acknowledged Thursday that he had “crossed a line for some women” with the way he embraced them during photographs at events.
In a Thanksgiving Day written statement, the embattled Democratic senator didn’t directly address new allegations by two women that he touched them inappropriately at Minneapolis events. The women spoke anonymously in a story published Wednesday by the Huffington Post, making it four women in a week to bring up past contact with Franken that made them uncomfortable.
Franken hasn’t appeared in public since the first accusations of sexual misconduct were raised by Los Angeles radio host Leeann Tweeden.
In the new statement, Franken said he is committed to regaining trust of Minnesota voters who have elected him twice. He has resisted calls to resign and said he supports a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of his behavior.
“I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too great,” he said. “Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that.”
Franken said that he has recognized he needs to be more careful and sensitive in future interactions.
It’s unclear if the statement will answer critics, who have said his response to the allegations hasn’t cleared up questions and has diminished his ability to do his job.
With a few exceptions, prominent DFLers in Minnesota and allies in the Senate have stopped short of seeking his resignation.
Here’s Franken’s full statement:
“I’ve met tens of thousands of people and taken thousands of photographs, often in crowded and chaotic situations. I’m a warm person; I hug people. I’ve learned from recent stories that in some of those encounters, I crossed a line for some women — and I know that any number is too many. Some women have found my greetings or embraces for a hug or photo inappropriate, and I respect their feelings about that. I’ve thought a lot in recent days about how that could happen, and recognize that I need to be much more careful and sensitive in these situations. I feel terribly that I’ve made some women feel badly and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again. And let me say again to Minnesotans that I’m sorry for putting them through this and I’m committed to regaining their trust.”