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Trump, a veteran of sexual harassment accusations, scolds Senator Franken

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President Donald Trump lashed out at Senator Al Franken, District of Minnesota, in two suggestive Twitter posts late on Thursday after the senator was accused by a Los Angeles radio newscaster of kissing and groping her more than a decade ago.

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump lashed out at Senator Al Franken, District of Minnesota, in two suggestive Twitter posts late on Thursday after the senator was accused by a Los Angeles radio newscaster of kissing and groping her more than a decade ago.

Leeann Tweeden, the newscaster, made the allegations earlier on Thursday about Mr Franken's behaviour while both of them were performing on a 2006 USO tour. She released a picture showing Mr Franken, a former writer for Saturday Night Live, appearing to grab her breasts while she was sleeping.

The photograph prompted Mr Trump to tweet that "the Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words". The president then suggested that Mr Franken might have gone on to take more liberties with the sleeping woman.

"Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps?" Mr Trump wrote.

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The president's decision to tweet about Mr Franken's case drew comparisons to his own behaviour as revealed by an "Access Hollywood" tape. Released by The Washington Post in early October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election, it revealed Mr Trump talking in vulgar terms about women.

Mr Trump later apologised for his language on the tape, saying that "these words don't reflect who I am". But since then, he has described his comments as "locker-room talk".

Before the election, several women told The New York Times that Mr Trump had assaulted them, touching them inappropriately. Several others told the newspaper that Mr Trump behaved improperly around them.

In his tweets on Thursday, the president went on to accuse Mr Franken of hypocrisy, saying that "just last week he was lecturing anyone who would listen about sexual harassment and respect for women", adding, "Lesley Stahl tape?" The mention of Ms Stahl, a veteran journalist for CBS News, was an apparent reference to a 1995 interview in which Mr Franken, then with Saturday Night Live, spoke about a possible skit in which Ms Stahl would be drugged and raped.

Mr Trump's comments about Mr Franken, a frequent critic of the president's, came even as Trump remained largely silent about accusations of sexual assault against Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in an Alabama special election scheduled to take place next month.

Backlash to Trump's tweets on Thursday was swift. Gretchen Carlson, a former anchor at Fox News, retweeted Trump's message questioning where Franken's hands were and said, "What about yours?"

NYTIMES

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