President criticized for response to Franken, Moore allegations

File photo of President Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who has largely stayed mum on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore, blasted Democratic Sen. Al Franken Thursday night after a woman said he groped and kissed her without her consent.

“The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?” President Trump wrote of a photo in which Franken appears to grab a woman’s breast while she was asleep during a 2006 USO tour.

He continued, “And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?”

President Trump was referring to a 1995 New York magazine article quoting Franken joking in the “Saturday Night Live” writers’ room about drugging and raping journalist Lesley Stahl. The article became an issue for Franken during his 2008 Senate election, for which he apologized at the time, though he later walked back the regret in his 2017 memoir.

The woman in the photo with Franken was Leeann Tweeden.

“I was just disgusted. I was violated, I felt like, you know, he betrayed my trust,” said Tweeden, said in a news article that was posted online telling her story.

Tweeden, a broadcaster and model, was on her way back from a two-week USO tour with Franken in 2006 when the photo was taken. She said earlier in the trip, he forcibly kissed her while they were rehearsing a skit.

Tweeden said she was inspired to speak out after hearing Congresswoman Jackie Speier recount being sexually assaulted as a congressional aide. Speier is leading an effort to combat sexual harrassment on Capitol Hill.

Franken released a statement that said, among other things, “There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It is completely inappropriate.”

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are calling for an Ethics Committee investigation. Franken said he will fully cooperate.

The President criticized

After speaking out on the Franken situation, some lawmakers criticized the President, pointing out that he largely stayed mum on the allegations of sexual misconduct against Alabama Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore while blasting Franken.

The Moore revelations unfolded while he was abroad in Asia, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on behalf of the President that Moore should drop out if the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him are true.

Mr. Trump, himself, has declined to comment further and ignored several shouted questions from reporters when asked whether Moore should drop out of the race.

“The President said in his statement earlier this week that, if the allegations are true, then that Roy Moore should step aside. He still firmly believes that,” Sanders told reporters on Thursday, noting, “This is a decision people of Alabama need to make, not the President.”

Sanders did say, however, that a Senate investigation into the allegations against Franken were an “appropriate action.”