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Woman accuses Franken of trying to kiss her by force in 2006

  Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) He leaves after speaking to the media on November 27 in Washington.

Senator Al Franken is one of several lawmakers and candidates who face accusations of sexual harassment amid a national protest for misconduct that has shaken Hollywood, the media and politics. | Alex Brandon / AP

The Minnesota senator is accused of making an unwanted sexual advance after recording his radio show in 2006. Denies the accusation.

A former Democratic congressional aide said that Al Franken tried to kiss her by force after recording her radio show in 2006, three years earlier to become a senator from the United States.

an aide, whose name POLITICO is holding to protect her identity, said Franken chased after her boss left the studio. She said she was picking up her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. , Franken was in his face.

The story continues below [19659009] The former staff member bent down to avoid Franken's lips. As she hurriedly left the room, she said, Franken said, "It's my right as cheerleader."

"He was between the door and me and was coming to kiss me, it was very fast and I think my brain had to work very hard to be like, wait, what's going on?" But I knew what what was happening was not right and I crouched down, "the assistant said in an interview. "I really jumped and booked it at the door and he said:" It's my right as an artist ".

The former staff member, who was around 20 years old at the time of the incident, said that she did not respond to Franken.

The woman said that she had never seen Franken before the incident. Franken was elected to the Senate in 2008, but began to increase his political activity in 2006.

Franken, who has been accused by six other women of groping or trying to kiss them by force, denied the accusation.

"This accusation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an animator is absurd, and I look forward to cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation of the ethics committee," Franken said in a statement to POLITICO.

Two former women's colleagues independently corroborated his version of events, including Franken telling him that he had the right to try to kiss her because he was "an artist". The first former colleague interviewed by POLITICO said he had been told about the incident in 2006, shortly after it happened. The second former co-worker said she heard about the meeting in 2009 or 2010.

Franken is one of several lawmakers and candidates facing sexual harassment allegations, in the midst of a national protest over the misconduct that has shaken Hollywood, the media and politics. On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) Resigned after several former female aides accused him of harassing them.

Conyers, the oldest member of the House, faced a drum of demands from leading Democrats to resign. No Democratic Senate has asked Franken to resign, although a small number of Democrats in the House have done so.

The former congressional aide, a longtime Democrat, said he is not trying to get Franken out of office by running now. Her goal is to encourage the former comedian to recognize that his behavior toward her and other women was intentional.

"Your resignation is not the top of the list, that's not my point, it's not up to me what you do," the former staff member said.

Franken said he was "embarrassed" by the incidents reported earlier, but also said through a spokesman that "he never intentionally engaged in that kind of behavior." "

The former staff member said that a more direct statement of guilt, not just different memories of the events, as Franken has offered to apologize to other women, could help change the national conversation about sexual assault and push the harassers to assume his behavior.

"I do not want to be in the position of deciding whether to tell this story, but I am not the person who put me in that position. He did that, "said the woman." I think that by this time in time to lead to a significant change there has to be something else that I'm ashamed of but I remember things in a different way. "

The former staff member said that, in general, she kept the meeting to herself, without even telling her boss at that time. But he started talking more openly about this to close friends after the video "Access Hollywood" aired in October 2016. In the now infamous film, Donald Trump is recorded saying his fame gives him carte blanche to grab the genitals of women.

"When it really started to impact me over & # 39; I'm really mad about this & # 39; it was last fall when the Trump tape came out," said the former assistant. "When I heard Donald Trump say essentially the same thing that Al Franken told me, that it was" it's my right as an animator ", that was a real trigger," he continued.

The former staff member says he was particularly shocked after seeing Franken on television responding to Trump's tape last year. Franken dismissed Trump's excuse that he was only talking about changing rooms and joked that maybe Trump worked with Roger Ailes, the now defunct president of Fox News who was forced to resign in 2016 amid accusations that he sexually harassed several employees. Fox. [19659007] "It was a moment in time when I told my friends about my experience with Franken because I saw him on the news about the Trump tape and I felt he was really hypocritical," said the former staff member. . "It's a dynamic of power and the fact that Donald Trump could say that it was not very different from the fact that Al Franken could say it."

Franken took the job of separating from Trump earlier this year before being accused of sexual harassment. , to say simply because the two were "both in a branch of the entertainment business" is not a reason to group them politically in the same category.

"I consider myself a polar opposite to him, I mean I really believe it," Franken said. at Trump's CNBC in September, two months before the first allegations of sexual harassment against the Minnesota Democrat arose.

Franken agreed to cooperate with an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee on his behavior.

"I feel this great responsibility to tell the truth," said the former staff member. "I do not think there are different versions of the truth and that's what bothered me a lot about [his] answers."

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