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 at a press conference Monday afternoon 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 ops.
Franken on Monday echoed his earlier apologies.
“I take a lot of pictures,” Franken said. As for the accusations of inappropriate touching, he said, “Those are instances I do not remember.” He said it’s clear some women feel he’s been disrespectful and “for that, I am tremendously sorry.”
“I am going to have to be much more conscious when in these circumstances, much more careful, much more sensitive … that this will not happen again going forward,” he said.
Franken made clear he’s staying put for now, though, saying he’s trying to “take responsibility by apologizing” and vowing to cooperate with an ethics probe.
“I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed,” Franken said. “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 also apologized and says he will cooperate with a Senate ethics investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.