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Franken faces ethics probe over harassment, says he'll comply

Photo: Jim Mone / AP

Leeann Tweeden, a news anchor for 790 KABC, a Los Angeles radio station, is accusing Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of kissing and groping her without consent in 2006. She detailed the account in a post published on the station's website.

There were immediate calls for an Ethics Committee investigation from Franken's Senate colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans. Franken said such an investigation should take place, and he will "gladly cooperate." He said he remembered the event differently than Tweeden, but made a general apology for his behavior

Franken's response: "I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed." Read his full statement.

Tweeden says she met Franken, who was a comedian at the time, on a trip abroad to entertain the troops. Tweeden says Franken wrote a special part for her in his script, in which the two were meant to kiss. While rehearing their lines one last time before the show, Tweeden wrote that Franken repeatedly insisted they practice the kissing scene, to which she objected.

Why it matters: Tweeden said she is finally coming forward after hearing other women's stories of sexual assault because she doesn't want it to continue happening to women — which it has been in every industry, from entertainment to politics to media, as we've seen in the Harvey Weinstein fallout.

The details:

  • "I said 'OK' so he would stop badgering me."
  • "We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth," she wrote.
  • "I immediately pushed him away with both of my hands against his chest and told him if he ever did that to me again I wouldn't be so nice about it the next time."
  • "I walked away. All I could think about was getting to a bathroom as fast as possible to rinse the taste of him out of my mouth."
  • "I felt disgusted and violated."

Tweeden says it didn't stop there. When their tour wrapped up and she returned to the U.S., she found a photo of Franken groping her chest while she was asleep on the plane.

Why now: Tweeden writes that she was afraid of the potential backlash she would have received and how that could have affected her career as a broadcaster. But now she says she's no longer afraid, especially after California Congresswoman Jackie Speier joined her morning radio show and told her story of being sexually assaulted when she was a young Congressional aide.

Quote"She described how a powerful man in the office where she worked 'held her face, kissed her and stuck his tongue in her mouth,'" Tweeden writes. "At that moment, I thought to myself, Al Franken did that exact same thing to me."
Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Trump's trade plan that would blow up the WTO

President Trump announces tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this month, flanked by Steven Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer, and Peter Navarro. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

For months, President Donald Trump has been badgering his economic advisors to give him broad, unilateral authority to raise tariffs — a move that would all but break the World Trade Organization.

His favorite word: “reciprocal.” He’s always complaining to staff about the fact that the U.S. has much lower tariffs on some foreign goods than other countries have on the same American-made goods. The key example is cars: The European Union has a 10 percent tariff on all cars, including those manufactured in America, and China hits all foreign-made cars with 25 percent tariffs. But the U.S. only charges 2.5 percent for foreign cars we import.

Jonathan Swan 6 hours ago
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Congress considers a monster spending bill

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell walk to the Senate chamber last month. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The House and Senate need to pass their massive 2018 spending bill before the government shuts down on Friday. Senior sources from both parties on Capitol Hill tell me they expect they'll get the deal done — though there's plenty of last minute haggling.

The big picture: This spending bill will cost more than $1 trillion and will further add to the deficit, which is likely to reach at least $800 billion for the 2018 fiscal year.  Republican leaders and Trump will sell the spending package as a much-needed boost to military spending. House defense hawks, led by House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, campaigned aggressively for this boost. And Democrats will rightly be thrilled that they've forced Republicans to capitulate to fund so many of their domestic priorities.