Sen. Al Franken vowed on Sunday he will return to work this week despite being “embarrassed and ashamed” over allegations from four different woman that he groped them.
“I’m embarrassed and ashamed. I’ve let a lot of people down and I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust,” Franken, D-Minn., said in a phone call with Minnesota media outlets. “I’m looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier this month asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Franken over allegations of sexual misconduct against at least one woman who said Franken forced her to kiss him during a USO tour and later fondled her in a now widely-published photo that was taken when she was sleeping.
Franken himself said he supported an Ethics Committee investigation.
On Sunday, he denied the allegations against him, as he has from the outset.
He said he has posed for “tens of thousands of photos” and does not remember any that ended with him inappropriately touching women, as several have alleged.
“I don’t remember these photographs, I don’t,” he said. “This is not something I would intentionally do.”
Franken said he has been “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.”
Asked whether he expects more women to come forward with similar groping allegations, Franken said: “If you had asked me two weeks ago, ‘Would any woman say I had treated her with disrespect?’ I would have said no. So, this has just caught me by surprise ... I certainly hope not.”
Top Democrats have mostly defended Franken and contrasted his behavior with other politicians facing sexual misconduct allegations, such as Roy Moore, the Republican Alabama Senate candidate accused of sexually assaulting and dating teenagers.
“Al Franken has acknowledged what he did was wrong," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union when asked if Franken should resign.
“I don't think you can equate Sen. Franken with Roy Moore,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Those are two different things.”
Also on Sunday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the House's longest-serving member facing his own sexual misconduct allegations, said he would step aside from from his ranking member position on the Judiciary Committee while the ethics panel investigates him.