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Chelsea Handler says groping not sexual assault, defends Al Franken

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Comedian Chelsea Handler defended her friend and former Minnesota
senator Al Franken, who resigned in January after at least six
women accused him of sexual misconduct, including groping and
unwanted advances.

Handler, who has recently turned her focus to activism rather
than talk-show hosting, said in a Profile by Buzzfeed News
interview on Sunday that she supported Franken running again, and
that what he did was not the same as sexual assault. 

“I don’t want to diminish anyone’s legitimate claim of
feeling like they’ve been assaulted, because that’s your feeling,
but I think there is a very big difference of a man putting his
arm around you … he’s a comedian,” she said. “I’ve touched
people’s breasts and genitals, I can’t imagine how many times in
photos. That doesn’t excuse it, but that’s something that’s just,
that’s not rape. That’s not sexual assault. That’s not repeated
behavior over and over again. It is a far different beast.

She added, “For a person who’s been sexually assaulted to
compare that story to someone putting their arm around you and
being silly in a a picture, which is what I believe Al Franken
was doing, I know him and that’s something he would do —
obviously he’ll never do it again — but I don’t think those are
the same thing.”

When interviewer Audie Cornish pressed Handler on the
Democratic party’s “zero tolerance” against sexual misconduct,
Handler said, “we have to say zero tolerance.” But she also stood
by her assertion that Franken will bounce back.

“I think he can run again, look who’s running the country, ya
know what I mean?” she said. “So I think you can redeem yourself
and I think Al Franken will redeem himself. He’s devoted to
politics and he was a great champion of women and marginalized
communities, so I do hope he runs again.”

Watch the full interview below. Handler’s comments about Franken
begin at the 7 minute mark:

 

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