Sanders said that Trump is not a hypocrite for attacking Sen. Franken
Trump attacked Franken over groping a woman after he issued an apology
Sanders said Trump is not a hypocrite because he has maintained the allegations against him were not true
WASHINGTON, U.S. - After U.S. President Donald Trump attacked Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) over groping a woman, critics labelled him a hypocrite as the president has faced his own charges of sexual harassment.
However, coming out in strong defense against their boss, White House officials attacked critics for calling Trump a hypocrite, claiming that there was no hypocrisy in Trump attacking Franken.
On Friday, White House legislative director Marc Short said that President Trump is not a hypocrite for attacking Sen. Al Franken, since Franken has acknowledged sexual misconduct and that there is photographic evidence of it.
Short argued, “The president has been clear that the allegations [of groping and harassment against him] were not true.”
Short noted that the president has also apologized for the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, in which he bragged about grabbing women and having his way with them because of his celebrity status.
Short said, “He was apologetic about [the tape] when it surfaced. He apologized to his wife and family and the American people about what he considered locker room behavior. He is not trying to excuse it. That's different than very visual evidence of what Al Franken did. The president is making the case that Al Franken was out condemning Roy Moore and others just a month ago and there is a level of hypocrisy there.”
By attacking Franken on Twitter on Friday, Trump put his aides in a tough spot and critics immediately accused Trump of hypocrisy, pointing to the "Access Hollywood" tape and the accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump from more than a dozen women.
The White House has repeatedly argued that all of the women making accusations about Trump are lying.
Franken issued an apology on Thursday after a woman named Leeann Tweeden, a former model who is now a morning news anchor on TalkRadio 790 KABC in Los Angeles accused the Minnesota Democratic Senator of groping her and kissing her without her consent.
Tweeden, who posted her story on the station’s website along with a photograph in which Franken appears to grabbing her breast while she's asleep, said that the incident occurred in 2006 while she was on a U.S.O. tour of the Middle East before Franken, then a well-known comedian, took public office.
In her tell-all post, Tweeden also accused Franken of adding a kissing scene in a script for a USO skit he wrote and repeatedly insisting they rehearse the kissing scene despite her protests.
Subsequently, Franken released a statement to reporters, in which he said he doesn't remember the forced kissing, but said he shouldn't have conducted his behavior as he did in the photo.
Franken said, “I certainly don't remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it."
In contrast, Trump has disputed and threatened to sue the women who have accused him of groping and harassment.
On Friday, Trump tweeted about Franken, "The Al Frankenstien [sic] picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? And to think that just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women. Lesley Stahl tape?"
Due to Trump’s criticism of Franken, the White House has now been forced to answer for why Trump is attacking Franken, a Democrat, but has not joined the calls of Washington Republicans demanding that Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, a Republican, step aside following similar sexual abuse allegations.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said the allegations against Moore are “very troubling and should be taken seriously” but that “the debate over whether Moore should exit the race “is a decision the people of Alabama need to make, not the president.”
Meanwhile, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that Trump was just weighing in "as he does on the news of the day" on Friday.
Short added that Trump had already done all he could do by backing Moore’s challenger, Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), in the primary.
Short said, “The president went down to Alabama and campaigned against Roy Moore. He campaigned for Luther Strange. The president was active in this campaign. He chose a different candidate … since the allegations surfaced, the president — even when he was traveling overseas — put out a statement saying if the allegations are true, he should step aside.”
Short added, “The president has been clear on this. At some point, we have to trust the people of Alabama to make the right decision. Everyone here in D.C. wants to decide for them what to do. The president weighed in and it's now up to them to make a decision.”
Following revelations about Franken, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, forwarded the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee.
He said in a statement, “As with all credible allegations of sexual harassment or assault, I believe the Ethics Committee should review the matter. I hope the Democratic leader will join me on this. Regardless of party, harassment and assault are completely unacceptable — in the workplace or anywhere else.”
When Sanders was questioned about why allegations about Franken warrant an ethics committee investigation but far more and more egregious claims against Trump do not, she shot back, “The American people spoke very loud and clear when they elected the president.”
Commenting on the distinction, she responded, “Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the president hasn’t. I think that’s a very clear distinction.”
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