Actor Matt Damon said he believes there is a difference between the sexual misconduct that Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein have been accused of committing against several women.
“I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behavior,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ “Popcorn with Peter Travers” published Thursday. “There’s a difference between patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation. Both of those behaviors need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated. When you see somebody like Al Franken, I personally would’ve preferred if they had an Ethics Committee investigation.”
Seven women accused Franken of groping them, primarily during photo ops that occurred before and during his time in the Senate. Franken also posed for a photo in which he appears to be grabbing radio host Leeann Tweeden’s breasts while she slept on a plane.
The two had been on an USO tour together in 2006, and Tweeden accused Franken of not only touching her inappropriately, but also of forcibly kissing her. More women came forward after Tweeden went public with her allegations against the Minnesota Democrat.
Franken said he will resign from the Senate in the wake of the allegations, but he has yet to give a specific date for when he will step down.
Damon called the photo of Franken a “terrible joke,” but said his behavior shouldn’t be in the same category as Weinstein’s.
“When you talk about Harvey and what he’s accused of, there are no pictures of that,” he said. “He knew he was up to no good. There’s no witnesses. There’s no braggadocio. That stuff happened secretly because it was criminal, and he knew it.”
Damon worked with Weinstein on the film “Good Will Hunting.”
The actor said he believes people are “so energized to kind of get retribution,” and said he fears imposing harsh consequences on those who admit to wrongdoing and show remorse for their behavior will lead to widespread denials from men who are accused of sexual misconduct.
“The fear for me is that right now, we’re in this moment where at the moment — and I hope it doesn’t stay this way — the clearer signal to men and to younger people is to deny it, because if you deny it, you can be in the White House. You can be the president,” Damon said.
More than a dozen women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, including groping and forcibly kissing. Trump and the White House have denied the allegations.