WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) returned to work in Congress Monday, facing cameras after apologizing over accusations of sexual misconduct.
While the Minnesota lawmaker continued to express regret for his actions, he insisted he won’t resign. He joined another prominent Democrat, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), in holding on to his job amid similar allegations.
“I am embarrassed, I feel ashamed,” Franken said. “What I’m going to do is, I’m going to start my job and go back to work.”
On Monday he did just that, returning to Capitol Hill and facing tough questions about sexual misconduct.
Talk radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her during a USO tour in 2006. Three other women have also accused Franken of groping them.
“I’ve been trying to take responsibility by apologizing, and by apologizing to the people I’ve let down,” Franken said, “and I’m going to work to regain their trust.”
But the senator seemed to struggle with basic questions posed by Minnesota reporter Esme Murphy of WCCO-TV, CBS Minneapolis about the woman have come forward.
Murphy: “Are they mistaken that their butt was grabbed, is that what you’re saying?”
Franken: “I am not saying that, I don’t remember these. As I say, I take a thousand photos and I don’t remember these particular photos.”
Murphy: “I think with all due respect, that someone such as yourself wouldn’t know that they were grabbing somebody’s butt…”
Franken: “I can understand how people can feel that way…”
Murphy: “Have you ever placed your hands on a woman’s butt?”
Franken: “I can’t say that hasn’t happened.”
President Donald Trump didn’t speak about Franken at the White House while honoring Native American heroes of World War II, but he did use his sarcastic nickname for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
“You’re very special people,” Trump said. “You were here long before any of us were here, although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. But you know what, I like you because you are special.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied the remark was offensive.
“I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” she said in her Monday press briefing.
Warren quickly denounced Trump’s comments.
“This was supposed to be an event to honor heroes, people who put it all on the line for our country, who, because of their incredible work, saved the lives of countless Americans and our allies,” Warren said in an interview on MSNBC. “It is deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”
On another topic, President Trump will head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, ahead of an expected vote on the Senate tax bill later this week.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)