Trumps Roasts Franken—Justfiably
‘Where do his hands go?’ Trump dubs senator ‘Al Frankenstien’ over photo showing the Democrat groping a sleeping Playboy model but stays quiet on accusations against Republican Moore
- President dubbed the senator ‘Al Frankenstien’ in a series of tweets which also accused him of being a hypocrite
- Rant comes after radio host Leeann Tweeden says now-Senator Al Franken groped and forcibly kissed her during a USO tour in Afghanistan
- Franken was photographed grabbing her breasts while she slept about a troop transport airplane
- ‘The Al Frankenstien(sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?’ Trump tweeted
- Tweeden also says he forced his tongue into her mouth – she called him ‘fish lips’ – when she expected to be rehearsing a scene
- Tump also accused Franken of being a hypocrite and brought up his ‘Lesley Stahl’ tape
- ‘And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?,’ he tweeted
- The president was famously caught on tape saying that stars ‘can do anything … grab them by the p***y’
Donald Trump has chimed in on claims that Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a Playboy model without her consent.
The president dubbed the senator ‘Al Frankenstien’ in a series of tweets – wrongly spelling Frankenstein – which also accused him of being a hypocrite for ‘lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women.’
‘The Al Frankenstien(sic) picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?’ he tweeted.
However Trump is yet to comment on Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s growing misconduct allegations.
Playboy model-turned-TalkRadio 790 KABC morning host Leeann Tweeden had released a photo of him touching her breasts well she slept on a military aircraft in 2006, as she accused him of sexual harassment.
She said Franken had also forced his tongue into her mouth when she expected to be rehearsing a scene where they would fake a ‘kiss’ for the military audience.
The senator, a former comedian and SNL writer, has since issued a public apology to Tweeden.
The president dubbed the senator ‘Al Frankenstien’ in a series of tweets which also accused him of being a hypocrite for ‘lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women’
But Trump, who was famously caught on tape saying that stars ‘can do anything … grab them by the p***y,’ accused Franken of being a hypocrite and brought up his ‘Lesley Stahl’ tape.
‘And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?,’ he tweeted.
Trump was referring to rape jokes Franken made about journalist Lesley Stahl, which were originally reported in a 1995 New York Magazine article.
The remarks were made in 1995, when Franken and other writers on the show were working up a sketch about then-60 Minutes host Andy Rooney finding a bottle of pills in his desk, New York Magazine reported at the time.
As the team batted ideas around, Franken suggested that the pills might be used by Rooney to drug Lesley Stahl at which point he would ‘take her to the closet and rape her’.
The sketch was part of an ongoing series in which Norm Macdonald portrayed Rooney as an out-of-touch misanthrope with a tenuous grasp on reality.
Tweeden has since spoken out about Franken’s apology, saying during a press conference that ‘people make mistakes. I’m not calling for him to step down. That’s not my place to say that.’
But the mother of a young son and daughter, both toddlers, hinted that if other women were to come forward with similar stories, that may change.
‘I’ve gotten a phone call from a woman that has – I’ve only gotten a message – that says something similar has happened to her. And I haven’t returned it yet. So that’s to be determined. I don’t know,’ Tweeden said.
‘It happened so fast. He mashed his lips against my face and stuck his tongue in my mouth so fast,’ Tweeden said Thursday.
‘All I can remember is that his lips were really wet and slimy and in my mind I called him ‘fish lips’ the rest of the trip. That’s what it reminded me of.’
‘He stuck his tongue down my mouth and I remember I pushed him off with my hands and I remember I almost punched him – because every time I see him now my hands clinch into fists.’
‘And I said, ‘If you ever do that to me again, I won’t be so nice about it the second time.’ I walked out away from him and I wanted to find a bathroom and rinse my mouth out. I was disgusted.’
Franken’s apology was forceful and calculated – and called ‘heartfelt’ by Tweeden on CNN.
She said she is speaking publicly in part in order to set an example that will one day give her children, ages four and two, a better social climate as they grow up.
‘I don’t want to be a cliche, but you know, you talk about trying to leave the world a better place for your kids, you know,’ she said, shedding a tear.
‘You do. You want to leave – you try to set examples for your children.’
FRANKEN’S ‘RAPE TALK’
Senator Al Franken’s bad-taste rape gag emerged during a Saturday Night Live writers’ session recorded in a New York Magazine in 1995.
The conversation saw Franken, Norm Macdonald and head writer Jim Downey discussing a sketch about then-60 Minutes host Andy Rooney discovering a pill bottle on his desk.
It was part of an ongoing series of skits in which Macdonald played Rooney as an out-of-touch curmudgeon.
The group discussed why Rooney – who had, in real life, made controversial remarks about Native Americans, gay people and Kurt Cobain’s suicide in the years immediately previous – would need the pills.
Initially they discussed whether the pills were for treating ‘hallucinations,’ ‘mood swings,’ ‘dementia,’ or ‘NRA dementia.’
Downey: ‘That’s too much. It’s his attitude that’s funny, the fact that he’s ignoring something that’s obviously important.’
MacDonald: ‘So I can say, “I don’t know what the pills are for – what I do know is, the bottle is mostly filled with cotton.”‘
Franken: ‘And, “I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then, when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her.” Or, “That’s why you never see Lesley until February.” Or, “When she passes out, I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.”‘
Downey: ‘”Here’s a picture of Ed Bradley.”‘
MacDonald: ‘What if Rooney rapes Mike Wallace? And then says, “I guess that makes me bad.” Is it funnier with a black guy? Or two old white guys?’
Franken: ‘What about, “I drag Mike into my office and rape him. Right here! I guess that makes me bad.”‘
‘The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women,’ Franken wrote in a statement hours after Tweeden went public.
‘There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing – and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine – is: I’m sorry.’
‘I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t,’ the accused government groper added. ‘And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.’
He specifically addressed the photo, shot as the USO performance troupe headed home the day before Christmas in 2006.
‘For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture,’ Franken added.
‘And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it – women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.’
Despite Trump speaking out about Al Franken he has remained quiet on Moore, who is facing multiple sex abuse allegations. Moore has cracked jokes about his current predicament saying he had united Democrats and Republicans – ‘in fighting against me.’
‘One thing I would like to see happen in our country is unity. I said I wanted to see unity,’ Moore told a Birmingham, Alabama crowd Thursday afternoon. ‘I would never dream I would succeed before I got elected,’ he laughed.
Despite numerous women accusing him of preying on them as teens, Moore has stood his ground.
‘As you know, The Washington Post has brought some scurrilous, false charges – not charges, allegations – which I have emphatically denied time and time again,’ Moore said. ‘They’re not only untrue, but they have no evidence to support them.’
Tweeden said Thursday that Franken approached her at a USO event just a few years ago and tried to make small talk, without any offer of an ‘I’m sorry.’
‘He had a chance to apologize to me then, because he knew exactly what he did to me then, and that picture was out there,’ she said.
Initially in reputation-saving mode, Franken’s office had sent a much shorter statement Thursday as news coverage of Tweeden’s story reached a frenzy.
‘I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way,’ he said then, of the forced-kiss allegation, ‘but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann.’
‘As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.’
Just 24 hours earlier during a Senate confirmation hearing for a Texas jurist nominated to be a federal judge, Franken engaged in a back-and-forth on one of the nominee’s humorous tweets about the right to marry bacon.
‘I don’t get it,’ Franken scolded Judge Don Willett. ‘But sometimes when you don’t get a joke, it’s because it wasn’t a joke.’
A reliably liberal champion of women’s causes, the senator last month donated to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center all the money his campaigns and political action committees have received from disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
And he responded to Weinstein’s apparent history of serial sexual-assault last month in a stinging Facebook essay, saying that ‘the disappointing responses women often face when they go public both embolden harassers and encourage victims to stay silent.’
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a swift statement of his own, calling for a congressional investigation into Tweeden’s claims.
‘As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter,’ McConnell said. ‘I hope the Democratic Leader will join me on this.’
‘Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable – in the workplace or anywhere else,’ McConnell added.
Franken said an hour later at the U.S. Capitol that he agrees.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters late Thursday afternoon that ‘on Senator Franken, it appears that the Senate is looking into that, which they should. And we feel that that’s an appropriate action’
‘I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate,’ Franken said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters late Thursday afternoon that ‘on Senator Franken, it appears that the Senate is looking into that, which they should. And we feel that that’s an appropriate action.’
USO Campaign Manger Shannon Shannon Joyce told DailyMail.com that ‘[t]his incident was never reported to the USO. We have no knowledge of it.’
‘The report is deeply disturbing and does not reflect the values of the USO,’ Joyce added.
On Thursday morning Tweeden posted a lengthy essay describing Franken, before he ran for U.S. Senate in Minnesota, writing a script that called for him to kiss her – and insisting on a full-contact rehearsal backstage.
And she later was shown a photograph of Franken groping her breasts while she slept aboard a military transport plane on the way home to the United States.
Tweeden and Franken were both veterans of USO tours, entertaining American military troops; she had already completed eight such trips before the one in question.
Franken has been a reliably liberal senator from a deep-blue state, posing a problem for Democrats who will have to decide how hard to come down on him
Country singers came along to croon, and some of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders provided window-dressing. Tweeden had already appeared, clothed, as a cover girl on FHM, Maxim and Playboy.
But Franken, the comic writer whose ideas propelled much of the first 20 seasons of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ was the main draw.
‘I was only expecting to emcee and introduce the acts, but Franken said he had written a part for me that he thought would be funny, and I agreed to play along,’ Tweeden wrote Thursday.
‘When I saw the script, Franken had written a moment when his character comes at me for a ‘kiss.’ I suspected what he was after, but I figured I could turn my head at the last minute, or put my hand over his mouth, to get more laughs from the crowd.’
But on the day of she show, she recalls, Franken insisted on rehearsing the kiss.
‘Relax Al, this isn’t SNL. … we don’t need to rehearse the kiss,’ she remembers telling him.
But nevertheless, he persisted.
Instead of letting Tweeden turn her head upstage to avoid his lips – a common sleight-of-hand bit of stagecraft – ‘he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.’
‘All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth,’ she writes now. ‘I felt disgusted and violated.’
Franken’s version of the real kiss was never repeated on stage, and she never told the USO brass what happened because ‘I didn’t want to cause trouble. We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our Holiday tour, I was a professional, and I could take care of myself.’
On Christmas Eve, after 2 weeks of performing in the Middle East, the troupe headed home on a 36-hour journey.
Tweeden fell fast asleep in her bulletproof jacket and helmet.
Later, when a photographer passed out CD-ROMs of candid pictures from the trip, she saw one depicting Franken grabbing her chest.
‘I couldn’t believe it. He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep,’ she wrote Thursday.
It’s unclear when this photo was taken – before or after the sexual assault alleged by Tweeden (right) but it depicts her performing onstage with a USO banner visible in the background
FRANKEN’S FULL STATEMENT OF APOLOGY TO LEEANN TWEEDEN
For Immediate Release: November 16, 2017
Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) released the following statement:
‘The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing – and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine – is: I’m sorry.
‘I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
‘But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
‘For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
‘Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
‘While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.
‘I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
‘And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.’
‘I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated. How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?’
Like other women in similar situations at the mercy of powerful men, Tweeden says she kept quiet for more than a decade out of fear of what pointing fingers might have done to her career as a broadcaster.
But a recent appearance by California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier on her show gave her courage.
Speier told a story about being sexually assaulted when she was a young congressional aide, an episode where a powerful man ‘held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth.’
‘At that moment,’ Tweeden recalled Thursday, ‘I thought to myself, ‘Al Franken did that exact same thing to me’.’
And she’s still angry about it.
‘Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault,’ she wrote.
Reacting to the Harvey Weinsten sex-abuse saga, Franken himself wrote last month that ‘the disappointing responses women often face when they go public both embolden harassers and encourage victims to stay silent’.
‘You wrote the scene that would include you kissing me and then relentlessly badgered me into ‘rehearsing’ the kiss with you backstage when we were alone.
‘You knew exactly what you were doing. You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed.’
‘I want the days of silence to be over forever,’ she added.
Franken wrote in his own October 11 Facebook essay that ‘[t]he women who have shared their stories about Harvey Weinstein over the last few days are incredibly brave. It takes a lot of courage to come forward, and we owe them our thanks.’
‘And as we hear more and more about Mr. Weinstein, it’s important to remember that while his behavior was appalling, it’s far too common,’ he wrote then.
Franken’s best-remembered character from his years in the ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast was Stuart Smalley, a feminine-sounding self-help therapist who encouraged patients to look into a dressing-room mirror and repeat: ‘I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.’
Franken won his first election in 2008, after the abuse alleged by Tweeden. The final margin of his statewide victory was a razor-thin 312 votes.