MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Al Franken, the former U.S. senator from Minnesota who resigned in 2017 following accusations that he groped or forcibly kissed several women, said he "absolutely" regrets resigning before an investigation could happen.
Franken made the comments in an interview with The New Yorker for a story published online Monday morning. He had not previously spoken publicly about his decision to resign.
The long-form article details radio personality Leeann Tweeden's accusations, which featured a photo showing Franken appearing to grope her during an overseas tour to visit military personnel in 2006. Tweeden revealed the photo in November 2017; other women later accused Franken of inappropriate kissing.
Franken resigned less than one month after Tweeden came forward amid pressure from fellow Senate Democrats to step down.
"Oh yeah. Absolutely," Franken said, when asked if he regrets his decision. ""I'm angry at my [Senate] colleagues who did this. I think they were just trying to get past one bad news cycle."
The magazine interviewed seven Democratic senators who expressed regrets about forcing Franken out.
After a lifetime in the spotlight – first as a comedian, then a politician – Franken has spent the past 18 months largely silent. He said he became depressed after his resignation and required medication.
"It got pretty dark," he told The New Yorker. "I became clinically depressed. I wasn't a hundred percent cognitively."
Franken's case has already played a role in the 2020 Democratic presidential nominating process, with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand having to answer questions after she was the first Democratic senator to call for Franken's resignation.
Presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who served with Franken in the Senate, said Monday that Franken has "made it pretty clear" to her that he's not planning a political comeback.
"It's the historical record that we are friends," Klobuchar said during an interview for Washington Post Live. "I did not call for him to step down publicly, but I did feel–I did condemn his behavior–but I felt strongly that it should go through the [Senate Ethics committee] process, that that was the right place for it to go."
Franken resigned before an ethics investigation could begin.
He has recently started a podcast, his first step toward returning to the public eye.