In the tumultuous aftermath of former model and TV host Leeann Tweeden’s accusations against Al Franken (D-MN) during a 2006 USO trip to Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, new photos and videos, as well as revelations about the script Tweeden claims Franken wrote to kiss her, have emerged that seem to cast doubt on her account as it was presented.
To be clear, the photo of Franken seemingly groping Tweeden’s chest is not only legitimate but inexcusable, and Franken himself has apologized for it.
During the very same USO tour, however, Tweeden can be seen blatantly groping the backside of a male performer and kissing another.
Al Franken groping Leeann Tweeden is a big deal, even if it was intended to be funny.
But Tweeden kissed a soldier on the same tour, seemingly without his consent (pictured).
We must demand higher standards of respect from men, but also from each other.#InternationalMensDay pic.twitter.com/mNa8bXsQnt
— Global Nationalist (@GlblNationalist) November 19, 2017
Furthermore, and perhaps more tellingly, accusations that Franken wrote a sketch so that he could force Tweeden to kiss him are another matter. In her accusation letter, Tweeden wrote:
“Senator Franken, you wrote the script. But there’s nothing funny about sexual assault. You wrote that scene that would include you kissing me and then relentlessly badgered me into ‘rehearsing’ the kiss backstage when we were alone.”
It turns out, Franken did not write the sketch for Tweeden. He had been performing the bit on USO tours for years, with at least one other actress, in which he plays a character who has written a scene in order to kiss his co-host.
Here is Franken performing the sketch with Karri Turner in 2003, four years earlier:
The following year, Franken published a piece for Mother Jones in which he includes the script for the sketch that he would perform with Tweeden two years later:
AL: So, anyway, I’ve taken the liberty of writing a little audition piece to show my range. [Handing Karri the script.] I play a prosecutor sent in by the Pentagon to shake things up around the JAG office.
KARRI: You wrote this?
AL: Yeah. I’m a writer, comedian, dramatic actor. [Beat.] It’s your line.
KARRI: Oh. [Reading from script.] … Al, I’m married in the show! I have two kids—
AL: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Keep reading.
KARRI: [Reading script.] Lance, I’m wearing this negligee because I want tonight to be very special. I want to give myself to you completely. Now kiss me! [Al grabs Karri and kisses her. Karri fights him off.]
KARRI: Now, wait a minute! You just wrote this so you could kiss me! If I was gonna kiss anybody, it’d be a real soldier. Like one of these brave men…or women. Who wants to help me out? You, soldier. [Karri points to soldier in front.]
This is not to say that Tweeden is lying about her account of the incident, but simply to point out that, as reported previously, all the facts surrounding the USO tour had not yet been presented.
If, however, it is ultimately revealed that she perverted the important #MeToo campaign to launch a political hit job on a Senator who has been a vital advocate for women, it would be a major blow to victims of sexual harassment and assault across the country. Every accuser deserves to be taken seriously, but rendering verdicts without all the facts can often lead us astray.