Trump Reacts to Al Franken Harassment Claim: 'Picture Is Really Bad'

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, on her nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, on Capitol Hill on Sept. 20, 2017 in Washington.

The late night hosts also had plenty to say about the allegations against the comedian-turned-Senator.

In a pair of tweets, President Donald Trump waded into the sexual-harassment scandal surrounding Sen. Al Franken on Thursday (Nov. 16).

Leeann Tweeden, a TV host and sports broadcaster, came forward earlier in the day to allege that Franken had kissed and groped her without her consent in an incident in 2006, during a USO tour to entertain troops in the Middle East. A picture of Franken groping Tweeden, apparently in jest, while she was asleep has been played on loop on cable news.

Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into his own conduct. The revelation led to widespread criticism of Franken from both sides of the political spectrum, and Trump wasted no time in piling on against one of his harshest critics in Washington, whom he described as "Al Frankenstien (sic)".

The president tweeted that the "picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words" and leads to questions of where Franken's "hands go" in other possible pictures. In a follow-up tweet, Trump claimed Franken has been hypocritical for "lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women." Trump also asked about a "Lesley Stahl tape" in reference to a 1995 New York magazine article in which Franken talked about how he had pitched an SNL skit in which he raped Lesley Stahl.

Trump's tweets slamming Franken come despite the president facing dozens of sexual-misconduct allegations of his own, as well as the notorious Access Hollywood tape in which he brags about committing assault. Prior to the 2016 election, Newsweek listed that Trump was accused by at least 16 women of sexual harassment and assault. The president has repeatedly brushed off the allegations as "fake news."

Trump has also notably stayed silent about the scandal surrounding Roy Moore, the GOP candidate for the open Alabama Senate seat who has been accused of pursuing, harassing and, in some cases, assaulting teenage girls.

Late night hosts across the dial also addressed the issue, criticizing Franken for his lewd gestures in the pic Tweeden shared that shows the senator posing with his hands over her chest during the USO tour in the Middle East. 

On the Late Show, host Stephen Colbert jokingly questioned who are the good people left as sexual harassment allegations continue to plague Hollywood and Washington. "I guess there are no good people left. Let’s just get it over with," said Colbert. "Just tell us whatever you did Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Tom Hanks, Malala. As a fellow comedian I long admired Al Franken, but I got to say this does not bode well for Louis C.K.’s senate hopes."

Colbert went on to criticize Franken's pose in the photo Tweeden shared. "For those of you not in showbiz actors call that technique sexual harassment," joked Colbert. The late-night host also responded to Franken's statement that the photo was "clearly intended to be funny but wasn't."

"Intended to be funny, but wasn’t? No. You’re movie Stuart Saves His Family was intended to be funny but wasn’t. That photo was intended to embarrass her. That’s why he did it while she was asleep. Nobody goes up to their buddy when he’s awake and says ‘Hey can I draw a penis on your forehead?’”

Over on Late Night, Seth Meyers called the photo "horrifying" when he addressed the incident during his "Sexual Harassment in Congress" segment. 

“She’s wearing army gear because it’s a USO tour but honestly who could blame women if they started wearing military gear whenever they are around men," said Meyers. 

"Al Franken, hashtag you, too?" said the Daily Show's Trevor Noah after showing the same picture on his show. "Even if there wasn’t a woman in that picture, that pose is it’s own crime," said Noah. "If I saw Franken doing that in the supermarket I’d be like “Hey leave that fruit alone!”

Noah added, "This story is another example how at all levels we men have been complicit in perpetuating the culture that devalues women. I don’t care who you are: Democrat, Republican, black, white, rich, poor, men. Because you forget it’s not just Al Franken in the picture. It’s the guy who is taking the picture. His Billy Bush. Who’s that guy?"

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