Minnesota Sen. Al Franken is finally ready to talk about the multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him.
In an exclusive on-camera interview Sunday with WCCO's Esme Murphy, Franken offered up blanket claims of contrition and embarrassment throughout, though the 66-year-old Democrat rhetorically tap-danced around specifics. Murphy doggedly pressed him.
"With all due respect, people are going to find it hard to believe that someone such as yourself wouldn’t know that they were grabbing someone’s butt," Murphy probed after 10-plus minutes of Franken vaguely alluding to incidents of "disrespect."
"I can understand how some people would see it that way," Franken responded.
"But have you ever placed a hand on some woman’s butt?" Murphy asked.
“I can’t say that it hasn’t happened," Franken confessed. "In crowded chaotic situations, I can’t say I haven’t done that. I am very sorry if these women experienced that."
Here are some other highlights from the 33-minute Franken-Murphy interview, which went down in Washington, D.C.
On the fallout from sexual misconduct claims:
"I've let the people of Minnesota down. I've let my friends and staff and supporters down, my family down. I've especially let down the people who have seen me as a champion for women."
On whether he'll resign from the U.S. Senate:
On whether he's now a diminished political figure:
"I'm going back to work tomorrow, and I'll see what it's like. I'm not going to make any excuses. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of some of what has come out. I'm going to work to regain people's trust. I think people know that I've been a serious senator."
On the possibility of more women emerging with similar claims:
"I don't know of anything that's going to come forward, but I would not be ... ya know, right now, I've been so shocked by all of this, that nothing is going to be surprising."
On the photo that shows him apparently groping the breasts of TV/radio personality Leeann Tweeden during a 2006 USO Tour:
"That's the thing I'm most ashamed for."
On being lumped together with similarly scandalized politicians, like Alabama senate candidate/accused pedophile Roy Moore:
"I don't like being in a split-screen with them. I'm trying to handle this differently. I'm trying to honor women, honor them coming forward."
On President Donald Trump's seemingly hypocritical Twitter barbs:
"Listen, I worry about the direction he's taking this country. I worry about this enormous tax giveaway to the very wealthiest Americans and to powerful corporations. This is going to affect Minnesota, this is going to affect all Americans. I'm going to fight this tax cut ... I'm not going to talk about other people."
On whether there are any undisclosed, formal sexual harassment claims or settlements against him:
On his message for the people of Minnesota:
"I'd like the opportunity to earn back the trust that I need to regain. I apologize. I feel terrible for letting so many people down. I'm going to be responsible and apologize for what I need to apologize for. I'm going to be accountable by going through the process of the Ethics Committee, and I'm going to work as hard as I can to win back the trust of so many people, of so many people that I love in Minnesota."
On messages of support from female staffers/former colleagues:
"That reflects the work I've done in the senate. One of the bitter ironies of this is that I have been a leader on this issue -- in terms of violence against women, assault on women, sexual harassment."
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