Franken plans media interviews about harassment allegations - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Franken plans media interviews about harassment allegations

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AP -

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has agreed to talk with a handful of Minnesota media outlets on Sunday, marking his first interviews since the Democrat was swept into a nationwide tide of sexual harassment allegations.

Four women have publicly accused the U.S. senator of misconduct. Franken's staff didn't respond to repeated interview requests from The Associated Press.

The first woman to come forward was Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden, who earlier this month released a photograph of the former comedian grinning while reaching out as if to grope her as she slept on a military aircraft during a USO tour in 2006. Tweeden said Franken also forcibly kissed her while rehearsing for a USO performance, which Franken has disputed.

A few days later, Lindsay Menz publicly alleged that Franken pulled her in closely and squeezed her buttocks while they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010. Two other women, speaking anonymously to The Huffington Post, said this week that Franken grabbed their buttocks during political events in 2007 and 2008, during his first campaign for Senate.

One woman said the Democratic candidate suggested they visit the bathroom together. Franken denied propositioning a woman to go to the bathroom and said it was "difficult to respond to anonymous accusers."

Franken has walked a careful line in his response to the allegations, apologizing to any woman who felt disrespected from their encounters and pledging to regain voters' confidence.

He faces a Senate ethics investigation - which he welcomed in the wake of Tweeden's allegation - though it's unclear when that review may begin. A swirl of sexual harassment allegations at the Minnesota Capitol forced the resignations of two state lawmakers at party leaders' urging, but Franken hasn't faced similar widespread calls to leave his U.S. Senate seat.

Franken came to the Senate after a months-long recount gave him a 312-vote victory in his 2008 election. He immediately tried to distance himself from his decades of professional comedy, which included off-color jokes about rape and disparaging women, and avoided national reporters.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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