Al Franken on Returning to Radio After Facing #MeToo Allegations: "I'm Not That Guy"

Conan_Al Franken - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Conaco

Al Franken stopped by Conan on Thursday to promote his new weekly radio show on the SiriusXM satellite service, but he couldn't help but address re-emerging to the public after his controversy.

The Minnesota Democrat resigned his U.S. Senate seat in 2017 following sexual misconduct charges. An investigation by New Yorker magazine published this summer called some of the charges against him into question. In the piece, seven current or former senators who had demanded his resignation now said they regretted doing so. 

"I think those eight colleagues have apologized because they know the untenable position I was put in," Franken explained to O'Brien. 

When the late-night host questioned why Franken resigned despite feeling "confident" in his case, Franken said his "committee work would be at risk."

"My staff would be isolated. I couldn't serve the people of Minnesota. It really needed to have a process, but I just couldn't stay either. It was awful. There was no good choices," he shared. 

Franken further emphasized that he felt a "tremendous amount of pressure to step down." "I don't think I had any other choice," he said. 

Having more than a year to reflect on everything that transpired, Franken said he has taken the time to learn. 

"When this first happened, if you had asked me, 'have you ever made a woman feel uncomfortable by the way you put your arm around her or touch her?' I would've said no," he explained. "After all these allegations came in, I thought I must be doing something wrong." 

"I've been a lot more mindful in my interactions with pretty much everyone. People that know me know that I'm not that guy; that guy that 36 of my colleagues demanded that I go." 

Franken also discussed former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation following news that he met with Russians during Donald Trump's campaign. "He lied to me. I was basically asking him, 'If anybody on the Trump campaign had met with Russia, would you recuse yourself?' and he said, 'well, I know I haven't met with any Russians.' He met with the ambassador from Russia three times." 

"He was the number one law enforcement officer in the country and I confused him. You'd think that speaks with my effectiveness," Franken quipped. 

With no longer being in the Senate, Franken admitted that he wishes more hard-hitting questions would be asked during hearings. "Sometimes I have emailed my colleagues during hearings and said this might be good [to ask]. It is very frustrating."

Franken also addressed the impeachment inquiry on Trump, calling the news "unbelievable."

Eager to put his past behind him and move on with this new weekly radio show, Franken admitted he's looking forward to speaking out. "When I left the Senate I said I'm giving up my seat. I'm not giving up my voice. I want to address issues that are important to people's lives," he said, citing health care and climate change as some of the issues he plans to discuss. 

Franken's one-hour interview show will feature figures from entertainment, politics and other industries and airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET on the Sirius Progress channel. Chris Rock is Franken's first guest, and upcoming names to be featured on the show include Patton Oswalt and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. 

"When I do it with Harry [Reid], I'm the funny one. When I do it with Chris [Rock], I'm the one that spent eight and a half years in the Senate."