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Second Woman Says Al Franken Groped Her In 2010

al-franken-2008

Minnesota Senator Al Franken is being accused of inappropriate contact by a second woman, this time in an incident that occurred after he had been elected to the Senate:

WASHINGTON — A second woman says Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, touched her inappropriately, telling CNN that he grabbed her rear end while her husband took a photo of the two of them at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010.

Mr. Franken has been caught up in controversy over allegations by Leeann Tweeden, a radio news anchor in California, that he forcibly kissed her while he was working as a comedian in 2006. Mr. Franken has issued an apology and has supported calls from both Democrats and Republicans for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate.

The new accusation, made by Lindsay Menz, 33, of Frisco, Texas, is the first to involve Mr. Franken’s time as a senator. CNN reported Monday morning that Ms. Renz reached out to the network after Ms. Tweeden went public last week, saying that she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”

She told CNN that she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010. Her father’s business was sponsoring a local radio booth, she said, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials and political candidates, including Mr. Franken, who was elected in 2008.

When Mr. Franken walked into the booth, she said, they had a brief exchange and her husband held up her phone to take a picture of the two of them.

The network quoted her as saying that Mr. Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” adding, “it was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

Mr. Franken issued a statement to CNN, saying, “I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t’ remember taking this picture. I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

More from CNN:

 A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair.

It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.

Franken has since issued an apology to Tweeden and faces a potential investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas, reached out to CNN on Thursday hours after Tweeden made her story public. Menz said she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”

According to Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father’s small business was sponsoring a local radio booth, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials, political candidates and celebrities and taking photos with them as they stopped by the booth.

When Franken walked in, Menz and her husband, who also spoke with CNN, said they recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator.

Then, as her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” said her husband Jeremy Menz, who didn’t see what happened behind his wife. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”

Lindsay Menz told CNN that she walked away as soon as the photo was taken, without saying anything to the then-first term senator. When she reconnected with her husband moments later, she told him: “He totally grabbed my butt.” Jeremy Menz described that conversation the same way to CNN.

In a statement to CNN Sunday, Franken said he did not remember taking the photo with Menz and that he felt “badly” that she felt disrespected.

“I take thousands of photos at the state fair surrounded by hundreds of people, and I certainly don’t remember taking this picture,” Franken said. “I feel badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”

“I felt gross. It’d be like being walking through the mall and some random person grabbing your butt,” Lindsay Menz said. “You just feel gross. Like ew, I want to wash that off of me.”

“I was upset. I wasn’t happy about it in the least,” Jeremy Menz said. “He was already gone and I wasn’t going to confront him. But yeah — I was in shock, really.”

Menz’s father, Mark Brown, was also in the radio booth that day but didn’t witness the moment. But he told CNN that his daughter told him about the incident right away.

Menz’s mother, Jodi Brown, also told CNN that she discussed the incident with her daughter immediately after it happened. She said she distinctly recalls her son-in-law saying to her: “Our senator just groped my wife right in front of me.”

In the photo of Menz and Franken, the side of the senator’s face is pressed up against Menz’s but the lower halves of their bodies are not shown. Both of them are smiling.

Menz posted the photo with Franken on Facebook at the time, on August 27, 2010. Her sister, Cari Thunker, commented under the photo: “Sorry, but you two aren’t Bibles (sic) width apart” — a reference, Thunker explained to CNN, to how physically close Menz and Franken were in the photo.
Menz responded to her sister on Facebook: “Dude — Al Franken TOTALLY molested me! Creeper!” (The exchange is visible to Menz’s Facebook friends.)

Minnesota statutes state that “intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks” is not considered criminal sexual conduct.

Menz told CNN that what happened immediately after she took the photo with Franken that summer day in 2010 has also stayed with her. Standing nearby was another politician — then-Minnesota Rep. John Kline.

As she was getting ready to take a picture with Kline, Menz said the congressman asked her whether they should “mutually put our arms around each other” — an interaction that struck her as being in stark contrast with what she had experienced moments ago with Franken.

Reached on the phone on Friday, Kline, a Republican who retired from Congress this year, confirmed that he attended the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, as he did most years. Kline could not remember seeing the interaction between Menz and Franken. But when CNN described Menz’s recollection of her interaction with Kline before they took a photo together, he told CNN: “As a matter of practice, I did that all the time.”

(…)

When Menz saw the news of Tweeden’s allegations against Franken on Thursday, she immediately discussed her own run-in with the senator from 2010 with her family. She also posted about it on Twitter and Facebook.

A friend encouraged Menz to contact a CNN reporter after seeing the network’s coverage of sexual harassment in recent days. Menz was emphatic that she “absolutely” would not have decided to share her story had Tweeden not done the same.

“I don’t want to paint my story in the same light as hers,” Menz said, saying she believes what happened to Tweeden is much worse.
Still, she said, “the reason I want to say something is if someone sees that I said something, maybe it would give them the courage to say something too.”

Amber Phillips at The Washington Post argues that these latest allegations put Franken in a difficult position:

1. This second allegation raises questions of whether this is a pattern of behavior for Franken: It’s possible that Franken could have successfully navigated the Tweeden allegations with his political career intact. He said he didn’t remember the kiss backstage on a USO tour the way she did, and he said he was joking when he grabbed her breasts for a photo. At the time, he was a comedian. A tasteless joke, but a joke. He eventually apologized, and Tweeden accepted it.

These Menz allegations get a lot harder for Franken to navigate that way. He wasn’t on a USO tour acting up to cheer up the troops. He was meeting his constituents at a Minnesota State Fair. And if he did indeed grab a woman’s buttocks whom he didn’t know on one of the most routine events for a politician to attend, how many times did it happen?

2. Menz alleges this happened while Franken was a sitting U.S. senator: Franken got elected two years after Tweeden says he forcibly kissed and groped her.

Franken had been elected a senator for two years when Menz said he grabbed her butt for a photo.

That’s a huge difference, both in terms of perception and punishment. Up until now, most of the allegations of sexual misconduct levied against politicians in this post-Weinstein era have been brought up from their past, not when they were sitting members of Congress.

The Senate has the right to kick out one of its own for any reason it wants, but that hasn’t happened since the Civil War. The Senate Ethics Committee has hesitated to punish senators for misconduct that allegedly happened before they were elected to the Senate. It may be more inclined to get tough on Franken given this allegedly happened while he was in the Senate.

In addition to the above, Franken’s statement regarding the incident doesn’t really constitute a denial:

Additionally, Franken’s past comments on how women who come forward with accusations of this type should be treated puts him in a bind:

As noted, Franken’s statement hardly constitutes a denial and mirrors the comments he made in the wake of Tweeden’s accusations last week when he simply said that he remembered the incident differently, but didn’t deny that the incident happened. Additionally, the fact that Menz immediately told her husband and others what happened, and posted about it on Facebook shortly after it happens lends credence to her version of events. Menz also said that she’s voted for Republicans and Democrats in the past including both President Trump and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and believes that she also voted for Franken when he ran for his seat in 2008. Given this, it seems likely that she’s telling the truth. Moreover, and potentially worse for Franken is the idea that what initially appeared to be an isolated incident with Tweeden may now turn into a torrent of accusations from other women, which will make it harder for him to deny the accusations. Finally, of course, there’s the fact that this incident happened after he had been elected to the Senate and appears to suggest that there may be other similar incidents in the past. Indeed, given Franken’s career before becoming a Senator it seems likely that there were other incidents like this and that this is part of a pattern of behavior that could become a problem for the Senator going forward.

What happens going forward is unclear. At the very least, it seems clear that there will be a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of Franken’s behavior, especially now that we’ve got allegations of him engaging in this kind of behavior while serving in the Senate. There’s been some talk of Franken being forced to resign, something Franken has rejected even in light of this second accusation, but I’m honestly not sure that this is necessary or that it would be an appropriate punishment in this case. Paul Waldman, who is hardly a conservative, is among those who think Democrats should pressure Franken to resign:

In any case, Democrats can — and should — get off the fence and declare that it’s time for Al Franken to resign.

That’s unpleasant, I know. Franken was beloved among Democrats, someone who’s smart and actually understands policy, but is also witty and performs well on television. That combination doesn’t come along that often, which is why some people were hoping he’d run for president. And it was perfectly reasonable to withhold judgment on his future after the first allegation. Maybe it was just an isolated incident, or a big misunderstanding. But that’s no longer a position that can be sustained.

If Democrats call for Franken to resign, it would demonstrate that they’re willing to put their actions where their principles are, that they want to take this opportunity to begin really changing the culture of male supremacy that makes widespread sexual harassment possible. That requires that some high-profile examples be made, and politicians are the perfect examples, since their positions are always granted on a probationary basis.

Nobody wants anyone to be unfairly targeted or for mere accusation to be enough to cost someone their job. But to be perfectly frank, it’s more than okay for men to start feeling a little bit afraid. The whole reason so many millions of women are victimized in ways large and small is precisely because the men who do the victimizing don’t feel afraid.

(…)

[W]e need to make sure we don’t lose our ability to make moral distinctions between different kinds of sexual misconduct, and that whatever punishments we mete out are proportional and just. If the allegations against Harvey Weinstein are true, then he’s a monster who ought to spend the remainder of his days behind bars. A man who doles out the occasional unwanted kiss might deserve a vigorous public shaming, but still be allowed to have a career.

But we all know that if the cultural change we’re hoping for is actually to come about — so that women can go to work, meet a politician, or just walk down the street without feeling like a gazelle striding past a pride of lions — liberals need to take a stand. Giving up on someone like Al Franken that you used to admire may be a necessary part of the process.

Additionally, it could be hard for the Senate to go light on Franken at the same time that it’s already being suggested that Roy Moore would be expelled if he manages to win the December 12th Special Election in Alabama. Granted, the accusations against Franken are in no way similar to those against Moore, but if there is to be a zero-tolerance policy applied when it comes to questions of improper sexual context, then Franken could find himself in a precarious position. This is especially true given the fact that Franken is, in essence, entirely expendable since he is a Democrat representing a solidly Democratic state headed by a Democratic Governor who would be the one charged with appointing his successor to the Senate. And, of course, things could become even more precarious for the Senator if additional women come forward with additional allegations.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Contemporaneous documentation…it’ll get you every time.
    On Friday I thought he needed to resign. Now I know he does. Tragic loss for the Republic, and for Minnesota…he’s a good Senator. His transgressions do not rise to the level of Moore’s or Trump’s…but they are still transgressions.

    This in no way excuses Franken’s behavior so please do not misread my comments, but search Leann Tweeden in Google/Images. The girl is not shy. Again…that’s no excuse for what Franken did.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  2. george says:

    He should be charged; if he’s convicted that’ll automatically take care of resignation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  3. CSK says:

    @george:

    I think the statute of limitations has run out on any possible assault charge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @george:
    So then you also believe Trump and Moore should be charged?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. george says:

    @CSK:

    How would it be handled if he’d been accused of say doing cocaine, or hurting someone while drinking and driving, or attacking someone with a baseball bat and the statute of limitations ran out? And of course, do so on more than one occasion.

    Wouldn’t those accusations be enough to force him resign?

    My understanding from rape survivors groups is that sexual assault accusations should be treated the same as other serious offenses – but rarely are. This might be a great time to start that precedence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  6. Gustopher says:

    Minnesota statutes state that “intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the buttocks” is not considered criminal sexual conduct.

    Oh, well then, it was perfectly fine…

    Franken should be spending his day writing letters of recommendation for his staff to his successor. They’re good people, and he’s likely gone within a week.

    Unless… did this woman have a particularly high butt? Did he aim for the waist and miss? A very wide butt so he missed the hip? No, no, a normal person would notice the difference, be horribly embarrassed and apologize profusely immediately.

    I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on the first incident (not the events, but the interpretation of the events), but a second with contemporaneous documentation? He should go. Also, someone should fix the Minnesota groping law.

    If we see the photo and they are both outside dressed in massive parkas to the point there is no way he knows what part of her anatomy his hand was on, I might reconsider.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  7. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    This in no way excuses Franken’s behavior so please do not misread my comments, but search Leann Tweeden in Google/Images. The girl is not shy. Again…that’s no excuse for what Franken did.

    Then why bring it up?

    I’m actually curious. I looked her up and checked her out when the accusations were first made*, noted that she was quite fine, that she knows she is quite fine, and she uses that quite fineness as part of her public persona, but I also didn’t think it was relevant or worth mentioning, so I didn’t. But why did you?

    Also, USO tours tend to have somewhat ribald entertainment, so she was likely being flirtatious in character, but that would also not excuse his actions as she described them (it does, however, lend credence to a version where he an over-the-top kiss for comedic effect, which then goes badly, so it actually is important)

    * I assume everyone does this, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. CSK says:

    @george:

    Different states have different laws regarding this. Interestingly, I may have been wrong about Minnesota. I looked the matter up very quickly, and, at a glance, it appears that charges for first, second, or third degree criminal sexual assault can be filed up to nine years after the offense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. Teve tory says:

    This in no way excuses Franken’s behavior so please do not misread my comments, but search Leann Tweeden in Google/Images. The girl is not shy. Again…that’s no excuse for what Franken did.

    If your point isn’t ‘she’s a slut’, you could have fooled me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  10. inhumans99 says:

    I am going to be a contrarian and say the Democrats should play politics and not be so quick to have Franken resign unless it is pretty much guaranteed his replacement will be a Democrat that is not sympathetic to President Trump’s agenda. For pete’s sake…a good chunk of the GOP is rallying around Roy Moore and that guy is known for trolling at malls to hit on 14-17 year olds when he was in his 30s…yuck.

    The party that rallies behind President Trump and Roy Moore asking the Democratic party to have someone fall voluntarily on their sword due to sexual harassment allegations is well, it redefines the saying that is rich.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. CSK says:

    The NYTimes has suspended Glenn Thrush for inappropriate sexual behavior.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Gustopher says:

    @inhumans99: The Governor of Minnesota is a Democrat, so Soon-To-Be-Former Senator Franken is replaceable.

    If you can take the high road for free, go for it.

    Otherwise, if he would be replaced by a Republican, he should hang on until the bitter end, and just not run for re-election.

    (I would love for Franken to come forward with some amazing explanation that makes all of us smack our foreheads and say “Of course! It was all a silly misunderstanding!”, but I am not particularly hopeful. I do hope he doesn’t drag his wife out as a prop, unless she grabs the microphone and announces “Al is an idiot, but I love him anyway.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Then why bring it up?

    Because, why not?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  14. george says:

    @CSK:

    Sounds like he should be charged then.

    Seriously, if he’d been accused of injuring people while driving drunk, or beating them up, would he be able to get away with an apology, or would he already have resigned? Sexual assault is on the same level as those, it should be charged the same, and with the same statute of limitations.

    And the same level of proof should be required for all of those as well. If a couple of people accuse someone of injuring them by drunken driving is that enough for a conviction? If so, it should be enough for sexual assault as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  15. al-Ameda says:

    This is a tidal wave, and it seems that there is no statute of limitations on bring up these allegations. It appears that we’re going to revisit Bill Clinton, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and all of that.

    Is Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill back on the table too?

    Personally, I think Robert Mueller should expand his investigation to include sexual harassment claims against the President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    …Franken is, in essence, entirely expendable since he is a Democrat representing a solidly Democratic state headed by a Democratic Governor who would be the one charged with appointing his successor to the Senate.

    I disagree…sure, his replacement would be a Democrat…but Franken has become a top flight Senator. He will be hard to replace, quality-wise, if he resigns.
    While I think the right thing is for him to resign…no one has been booted from the Senate in a century and a half. Maybe the right thing is for him to face re-election and let his constituents decide.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. michael reynolds says:

    We will not be able to sustain a zero-tolerance approach. Zero tolerance has always been a stupid idea. There is not a man alive who has not at some time transgressed if the standard is touching a woman’s behind. If we insist on that standard this whole #MeToo movement will collapse on itself leaving confusion, resentment and destruction in its wake. We need some kind of standard, we need to draw the line somewhere, not everywhere.

    For me Red Line #1 is minors. No excuse, ever. Leave children alone.

    Red Line #2 is force. If force or the threat of force was used, again, no excuse.

    Red Line #3 is abuse of power. Did the perpetrator use his/her economic or professional edge to compel a man or a woman.

    ‘Made me feel uncomfortable’ is too low a standard. It’s entirely subjective and we have not yet reached the point where being a boor is punishable. I feel uncomfortable as hell when women do the kiss-kiss cheek thing with me. Or when people hug me. It is an invasion of personal space that is unwelcome to me, and it involves touching of an arguably sexual nature. But my discomfort is not necessarily someone else’s crime.

    And for the record, I am one of those few men who tweeted #MeToo and had ample justification.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Is Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill back on the table too?

    This is an excellent point…if Clinton’s indiscretions can now be rehashed, why can’t those of Thomas? I wonder who else this tidal wave will come crashing down on…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    We will not be able to sustain a zero-tolerance approach. Zero tolerance has always been a stupid idea. There is not a man alive who has not at some time transgressed if the standard is touching a woman’s behind

    There is no excuse for a Senator or Senatorial candidate to be grabbing behinds during constituent meet and greets.

    And, I haven’t grabbed an unwelcoming behind in my adult life. It’s really not that difficult to refrain from touching people who don’t want to be touched, and even in a “maybe he or she wants to be touched” situation, the butt is not the first stop on the tour.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  20. Gustopher says:

    @george: No one is saying he should be jailed. People are saying that he has lost the public trust and should resign because of that.

    There is a difference in burden of proof — to jail him you would need to meet beyond a reasonable doubt. To call for his resignation? Something less than that… preponderance of evidence, perhaps.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    And thus far we have zero proof that Franken did grab her ass. Nor are we likely to get evidence unless Franken confesses.

    We need some standard of evidence, and we need some hierarchy of behavior. Firing everyone who is ever accused of anything, by anyone, is not a rational or sustainable approach. And it has the unfortunate knock-on effect of equating forcible rape with child molestation with drunken grab-ass in a bar. The positive effect will be largely lost, because for this #MeToo moment to endure it has to translate into a set of rules-of-the-road, possibly legislation, certainly company policies, and “accusation equals guilt,” and, “it’s all equally bad,” are not translatable to law or to policy and are therefore unsustainable.

    I do not like mob justice, and unless this can be made rational, that’s all we’ll have. Inevitably there will be cases of false accusation, which will do to #MeToo what Duke and UVA did to campus sexual assault, make partisan and contentious what does not need to be. These are not emergencies, can we not take some time and think matters through intelligently?

    Zero tolerance was stupid and harmful when the military tried ‘Zero Defects,’ and just as stupid and harmful when translated into middle schools. It’s an engineer’s approach to human behavior. It will not work as advertised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  22. Tyrell says:

    The mainstream news is in a feeding frenzy obsession with this stuff. Most people don’t care about this junk. Some of the alternative news sources are reporting other important news instead of the sensationalized titillating stuff. I can watch that on Springer.
    This could be a diversionary scheme.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. wr says:

    @george: Charged with what?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. wr says:

    @al-Ameda: “Is Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill back on the table too?”

    Of course not. Because that’s not how this game works. For those of you who wake up every morning determined to forget everything that’s ever happened before:

    1) Republican is caught doing truly horrible thing.

    2) Public outrage is so much that even some Republicans have to pretend to think it’s bad if one of their team does it.

    3) Republican feign outrage at their own, then find a Democrat who has done something along similar lines but a thousandth of the severity.

    4) Republicans say both accused parties are equally evil and should step down/be tried.

    5) Democrats pick up on Republicans’ urging and start purging their ranks of anyone who could even tangentially be painted with a broad brush — and Republicans make sure they aim at their most effective champions.

    6) Democrats prove their purity by getting rid of their most effective legislators, then proceed to seat the rapist, harasser, or child molester who was the original target of accusations, elevating scum like Newt Gingrich, Denny Hastert, Clarence Thomas and Roy Moore to positions of almost untouchable power, while the Democrats feel that warm glow of purity in their hearts.

    Do you guys ever learn? Yes, when all is said and done, we’ll have the moral high ground. Meanwhile the Republicans are leading a second civil war, currently financially penalizing anyone who lives in a state that votes for Democrats with thousands of dollars in extra taxes that go straight into the Don Jr and Invanka trust fund

    Start having some faith in your own people — your own good people. You think that abandoning people who have worked like hell for your causes makes you strong… which is exactly what Republicans want you to believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  25. An Interested Party says:

    I’m thinking about a certain biblical quote…you know the one, about beams and motes and eyes…this is an especially important quote to remember for all the religious folks who support perverts and pigs in the GOP…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “Firing everyone who is ever accused of anything, by anyone, is not a rational or sustainable approach.”

    But don’t you see? If we fire everyone who is ever accused of anything by anyone, then we will only be represented by perfect people, and they will work together to bring about the perfect nation. Now it’s true that voting for Jill Stein only got us Donald Trump, but it also made us feel really good about ourselves, and in the end that’s much more important than the thousands of DACA kids who are going to be deported to countries they’ve never seen… or clean air and water… or letting minorities vote.

    Remember, Michael, if anyone on our side is one-millionth part imperfect, then we are all dirty. And dirty people can never be allowed to win elections/

    Except Republicans, of course, because they don’t care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  27. wr says:

    And here we go… Senator Richard Blumenthal was accused of sexual assault on Twitter, and all the Trump places ran with it. Now it turns out that the accuser was actually a fake account using pictures and names stolen from other accounts, and is an obvious smear of a Senator Trump hates.

    But as good Democrats, that shouldn’t stop us from demanding the Blumenthal step down. After all, just because this accusation is fake doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything. What if someone else accuses him? Then we look like we’re covering up for a rapist. Or even a fake-rapist.

    We can’t afford to have anyone in our party who has been accused of sexual assault even if the accusation is clearly fraudulent.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  28. george says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Absolutely. Let the courts sort it out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. wr says:
  30. Jen says:

    @Gustopher:
    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    One of the photos of Ms. Tweeden has her grabbing the backside of one of the musical performers who was part of the USO show. If butt-grabbing is assault, there’s a photo of her engaging in the same behavior.

    I agree with Michael. This feels like it’s heading into mob-rule territory.

    WaPo is reporting Charlie Rose has been accused by 8 women of some pretty vile stuff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. george says:

    @Gustopher:

    Sure. Use the same preponderance of evidence as if their accusers had accused them of something less politically charged right now – say a drunk driving accident or hitting them with a punch.

    My point is that right now this is all so emotionally charged (in all directions actually) that we should be comparing it to less politically charged acts of similar consequences.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. george says:

    @wr:

    Presumably assault. If what he did doesn’t rise to that level, then its not a question of resigning, though his electorate might decide not to reelect him.

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  33. barbintheboonies says:

    How is this story going to end? There is nothing a person can do right anymore. Everything offends someone. We should all know some boundaries, but we may be going too far with this. We all should know no means no. Do not touch or suggest anything sexual with co-workers. I would hate for us as a society to be unfriendly by being so afraid to smile or harmlessly say something flirty. I have had to say something before to a co-worker who got too friendly, but it ended quickly when I said knock it off. We went on and eventually became friends. I also saw women grabbing men’s butts and I knew they were uncomfortable too. They would never say anything because men are just supposed to suck it up. That is BS too.

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: First, we do know that the latest accuser isn’t making things up now, to capitalize on the first accusation. If she is lying, then it happened at the time of the alleged groping.

    Second, it’s an abuse of power coming from a Senator. This wasn’t a drunken ass grab in a bar, nor was it described as a light touch, it was a full grab.

    Third, it backs up Ms. Tweeden allegations, the most damning of which is that Franken continued verbally harassing her during the rest of the tour. Franken acknowledges the kiss and the photo, and we were left with a question of interpretation. This makes it harder to accept a “he’s a clumsy fool who misreads things” interpretation.

    Fourth, he would be replaced with a Democrat.

    There’s not no evidence of his behavior — there is an admission with Ms. Tweeden, and contemporaneous notes with Ms. Mertz(?). You might want more evidence, but this isn’t no evidence. I’m assuming there will be more allegations, and I may just want him gone in anticipation of that so we can move past it already. How does four sound? Fourth accusation, three or more having contemporaneous documentation?

    This is also not just firing someone from a job — Senator is a lot more than a job, and when someone has been credibly shown to have abused the power that comes with it, he should step down, unless he would be replaced with a Republican.

    Character matters. Not as much as politics and policy, but more than one man’s career.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    @Jen:

    One of the photos of Ms. Tweeden has her grabbing the backside of one of the musical performers who was part of the USO show. If butt-grabbing is assault, there’s a photo of her engaging in the same behavior.

    When I googled “Tweeden butt grab” I found a clip of the USO show itself — she rubs her butt against a guitar player, he grabs it, she does a little jump, and then grabs his. If this is what you are referring to… you do realize that both the guitar player and Ms. Tweeden were willing participants, don’t you? It was part of the show.

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  36. the Q says:

    In 1962, Diane Feinstein returned books to the pubic library which were two weeks OVERDUE.

    She is now being asked to step down from her Senate seat.

    Brian Schatz of Hawaii in 1996 was seen in a picture taken with a cute tourist wearing a tee shirt he said was from his alma mater:

    Kamana Wanna Lei U.

    The woman is now charging sexual harassment and is demanding his resignation from the Senate.

    I think legalizing prostitution should be debated. That way, when you need sex, no more drunken seductions which can lead to misunderstandings between men and women.

    Just pay the money to behave like a jerk and no one’s hair gets mussed.

    In this day and age, asking a women out for a date, especially if she says NO, could constitute ‘harassment’.

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  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    You should watch the video of that event. It’s much more enlightening.

    Note that it doesn’t diminish or excuse what happened to her, so hold off on the accusations of slut shaming.

    It doesn’t make her not a victim, but it does make her one gigantic hypocrite and sort of neuters her value in a “remove Franken” campaign.

    So, enter new accuser, stage left. The timing is just amazing, I tell you . Just amazing … 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  38. Andre Kenji says:

    Unless there are more women complaining about being harassed by Franken I don’t see why he should resign. And I don’t like the idea of having someone so connected with the MPAA in the Senate.

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  39. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    you do realize that both the guitar player and Ms. Tweeden were willing participants

    You have evidence to the effect that the guitar player knew about her inappropriate behavior in advance and gave prior consent? If so, I’d like to see it.

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  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    First, we do know that the latest accuser isn’t making things up now, to capitalize on the first accusation

    How do we know this? You seem to be assuming a great many facts which aren’t in evidence at the moment.

    Could you point out the groping in this photo, please?

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  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Truthfully, this whole thing is starting to smell like HUAC in the 1950s.

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  42. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: we have photographic evidence that he enjoyed it and/or found it funny, and that it wasn’t unwelcome. USO shows are bawdy, ribald productions.

    Even if Ms. Tweeden was the biggest slut on the planet, rubbing and rutting against every man, woman and child-over-the-local-age-of-consent except Mr. Franken, it would not excuse the behavior she accuses him of.

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  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    we have photographic evidence that he enjoyed it and/or found it funny, and that it wasn’t unwelcome.

    No, we have your opinion that he enjoyed it / found it funny. Try as I might, I can’t find any confirmation of that. No statement to that effect issued by him confirming your assertion. Running with assumptions based on facts not in evidence are how witch hunts begin.

    And, you know, even if we were to assume that you’re correct (which I am not doing, but I’ll run with it for a hypothetical), we still need confirmation that he agreed to her behavior PRIOR TO it occurring. After all, to assert that men must obtain prior consent, but rationalize that it was ok for this woman to engage in sexually abusive behavior and assault – which is in fact what she did – without doing the same is, what’s the word I’m looking for?

    Hypocritical … You have to hold her to the exact same standard that Franken is being held to.

    Even if Ms. Tweeden was the biggest slut on the planet, rubbing and rutting against every man, woman and child-over-the-local-age-of-consent except Mr. Franken, it would not excuse the behavior she accuses him of.

    hence:

    It doesn’t make her not a victim, but it does make her one gigantic hypocrite

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  44. Jen says:

    @HarvardLaw92: You articulated exactly what I was attempting to get at, thank you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. wr says:

    @Gustopher: “Second, it’s an abuse of power coming from a Senator. This wasn’t a drunken ass grab in a bar, nor was it described as a light touch, it was a full grab.”

    What power was he abusing? Has she claimed that if she didn’t let him grope her, he would use the authority vested in his office to make her life harder — or that if she did, he would get her a job? Did he have the power to hire or fire her? Was he going to raise her taxes because she lived in a state that votes Democratic? (Oh, wait — that’s every piece of crap Republican in congress…)

    The very worst abuse you could accuse him of here is abuse of celebrity — she wanted to have her picture taken with someone famous and he used that as an excuse to grab her ass. Which if true is rude, but if you can’t tell the difference between this and actual abuse of power, you probably also can’t tell the difference between this and trying to rape a 16 year-old… which would, I suppose, make you a Republican.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Mikey says:

    @wr:

    Do you guys ever learn? Yes, when all is said and done, we’ll have the moral high ground. Meanwhile the Republicans are leading a second civil war

    You’re absolutely right. No army ever won a war by seizing the moral high ground rather than the actual high ground.

    We may need to start saying “he’s a sonofabitch, but he’s OUR sonofabitch.” And in this case the sonofabitch has done a great deal to advance women’s rights, in contrast to the Republicans who do all they can to turn the clock back as fast and far as they can.

    When Roy Moore still has a snowball’s chance of being elected to the Senate, we simply cannot afford to purity-test Al Franken out of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Jen:

    You’re welcome. Updating further with some fun facts:

    She’s an evangelical who attended a Pentecostal bible college and she voted for Trump.

    Hmmm, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Hmmm, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    Does his name rhyme with “Beeve Stannon?”

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  49. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    😀

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  50. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    I have to admit that I’m a little uncomfortable with equating “he grabbed my butt” with “I know you’re hurting, but it’s really important for us to get the DNA evidence from your body and then we’ll be able to treat your injuries,” but if that’s what society wishes to do by calling both sexual assault, then so be it.

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  51. Guarneri says:

    Democrats must not be get’n any at home. What is it that makes Democrats want to parade around their fat decrepit naked bodies in front of women? How old are Charlie Rose and Weinstein, anyway??

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  52. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: Excellent analysis… (Mostly because it pretty much aligns with my thinking on the topic.)

    I think we’re going to continue to see a lot more ‘Crossing Red Line #3’ reports in the future, in media, large corporations, and politics.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  53. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Grab ’em by the pussy, Drew. Then STFU you ridiculous hypocrite.

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  54. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Truthfully, this whole thing is starting to smell like HUAC in the 1950s.

    My thought exactly.

    People forget this little detail of the McCarthy era: there actually were communists in government and entertainment. They were not just a figment of the imagination. And they had no more business there than Nazis did. Just as there really are sexual predators in politics and entertainment (and the rest of life, too) and they have no business being in positions of trust.

    But our system is predicated on the belief that it is far better to let a guilty man go free than to unjustly punish an innocent man. The moral lesson of McCarthyism is not that those poor, poor commies were treated badly, it’s that there was no differentiation made between guys who’d signed a petition in college and guys who were reporting to Moscow Center on a daily basis. We treated idealistic ninnies as the moral equals of actual Stalinists.

    As a result of the HUAC and McCarthy repression ‘anti-communism’ became discredited – despite the fact that communists had committed atrocities on a scale comparable to Hitler.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  55. John430 says:

    Been trying to parse through laws concerning expulsions, resignations, etc of elected officials…

    Article I, Section 5, of the U.S. Constitution provides that each house of Congress may “. . .punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” Since 1789, the Senate has expelled only fifteen of its entire membership.
    Censure
    Article I, Section 5, of the U.S. Constitution provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” Censure is a form of discipline used by the Senate against its members (sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement). A formal statement of disapproval, a censure does not remove a senator from office. Since 1789 the Senate has censured nine of its members.

    Does it appear (as it does to me) that the Senate can exclude a member without an actual charge being laid against him (or her)? What constitutes “disorderly behavior”?

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  56. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Red Line #1 is minors. No excuse, ever. Leave children alone.

    Red Line #2 is force. If force or the threat of force was used, again, no excuse.

    Red Line #3 is abuse of power

    . Did the perpetrator use his/her economic or professional edge to compel a man or a woman.

    I think you make a good point here. I’ve been trying to articulate to myself why my inclination is to shrug at what Franken did, while still thinking Clinton, Moore, and Clarence Thomas deserve some consequences for what they did. It’s the power, of course. Franken wasn’t in a position of power over Tweeden or Menz. According to Tweeden’s story she protested his behavior and he stopped. No consequences, and no possibility of them.

    Also, why the heck didn’t Menz say “Take your hand off my butt!” if she was bothered by it? I mean, men shouldn’t be grabbing women’s buttocks (nor women grabbing men’s), but we women really have to take charge of our lives enough to speak out when something happens, not wait several years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  57. michael reynolds says:

    @Kari Q:
    I think we have three kinds of guys here:

    1) Predators. Serious predators, and yes, Bill Clinton may be among them, as is Weinstein, as is Roy Moore. We need to be done with these guys.

    2) Dicks. Then you have guys who exploit any perceived opening, not intending to do anything malicious (in their own eyes), but ready to act impulsively and immaturely. Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Trump himself so far as we know. Their actions may be criminal, but in the minor misdemeanor range. This group is salvageable – if they wish to be salvaged. If not, if they continue to defend their actions, and especially if they persist in the face of warnings, they rise to group #1.

    3) Idiots. Then you have one-offs, the guys who are drunk or stoned and misread the signs and make an awkward play. I’m sorry, but the sanction here should not be legal, but personal and social. Their actions should be condemned, but we don’t need to expel them from society. I don’t know but suspect this is Ben Affleck, George Takei, etc…

    Group One: Go away and stay away, unless the statute of limitations hasn’t run out, in which case, go directly to jail and do not pass Go.

    Group Two: Stop it, stop it right now, tell the truth, apologize like you mean it. And also, actually mean it. To the extent you’ve done damage try your best to undo it. Go and sin no more.

    Group Three: Sigh. For f–k’s sake, grow up.

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  58. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    Article 1, Section 5 just empowers each house to formulate its own rules of procedure. For the standard, you have to consult the Standing Rules of the US Senate

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  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    To more fully answer your question, however, technically speaking a Senator can be expelled by a two-thirds vote for any reason. He/she doesn’t have to violate any law. The power granted to each house to define its own rules as it sees fit empowers the Senate to determine for itself what constitutes, and the Senate rules do not specifically delineate what constitutes grounds for expulsion.

    Bottom line: the Senate ethics committee can decide expulsion is warranted, and then the full Senate can vote to expel for whatever reason they like or indeed for no real reason at all

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  60. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “People forget this little detail of the McCarthy era: there actually were communists in government and entertainment. They were not just a figment of the imagination. And they had no more business there than Nazis did.”

    If you’re talking about Soviet agents, sure. But if you mean writers and directors and government employees who happened to hold Communist beliefs while following the laws of this country, then yeah, they did have business in government and entertainment. The whole point of the first amendment is that you are free to think whatever you want without being persecuted for it.

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  61. Tyrell says:

    @wr: “even if the accusation is clearly fraudulent” What on earth? Wouldn’t that lead to lawsuits, and even some sort of legal charges?
    Who is next on these lists? FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? The Pope?
    The mainstream news media is over saturating the people with this stuff. And just why is that? I am wondering.
    Do not watch the msm. There are alternatives.

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  62. John430 says:

    @wr: I can’t tell for sure but if memory serves me…being a Communist (with a capital C) called for violent overthrow of the government, hence the prosecutions.

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  63. Kari Q says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Two more accusations against Franken, and he’s definitely moved from category 3 into category 2, at least.

    Time for him to resign.

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  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kari Q:

    Anonymous accusations. Doesn’t cut the mustard, sorry.

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