Trump silent on sexual scandals until it's a Democrat

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US president quick to tweet criticism of vocal opponent

WASHINGTON:  After days of silence about a series of sexual misconduct scandals roiling the US, President Donald Trump weighed in Thursday, bashing a leading Democrat now under investigation.

Mr Trump took to Twitter to hit out at Senator Al Franken who, it emerged earlier in the day, was photographed in 2006 groping a sports broadcaster's breasts while she was asleep.

"The Al Frankenstien picture is really bad, speaks a thousand words. Where do his hands go in pictures 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 while she sleeps? ...," Mr Trump tweeted.

The broadcaster and also a former model, Ms Leeann Tweeden, also accused Mr Franken, a former comedian, of kissing her without her consent.

Mr Franken has apologised and said he does not remember that second incident in the same way, but he now faces a Senate ethics investigation that could see him fined, stripped of committee posts or even expelled.

Until now, the White House had tried to distance Mr Trump from a series of sex scandals that have reverberated from Hollywood to Congress.

As the allegations swirled, Mr Trump - who himself has faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct - had largely avoided comment.

For days, he refused to call on Republican senate hopeful Roy Moore to bow out of the race after being accused of sexual advances toward multiple underaged girls.

But the US president appeared unwilling to pass up an opportunity to attack a Democrat who has been hyper critical of his conduct as president.

Mr Franken is also on the judiciary committee, which is among those looking into Russia's role in the 2016 election.

As president and as celebrity, Mr Trump has often injected himself into issues to which he has little connection - from the shooting of Harambe the gorilla to NFL anthem protests.

But this intervention may pose more political risk for the 71-year-old.

In response to his latest foray, Trump critics immediately zeroed in on allegations against the president and his infamous remarks in which he was caught on tape boasting about grabbing women by the genitals.

In yet another twist in the sexual abuse saga embroiling the US, former US president George H.W. Bush is facing new allegations from a Michigan woman who said he touched her inappropriately while he was in office at an event in April 1992, CNN reported on Thursday.

The woman, now 55, said she was attending a fund-raiser for Mr Bush's re-election campaign in Dearborn, Michigan, with her father when the president grabbed her bum during a photo-op.

Her story, which is remarkably similar to the accounts shared by at least six other women who said the former president groped them during photo-ops between 2003 and 2016, is significant, because it is the first time a woman has come forward to accuse Mr Bush of unwanted touching while he was in office. - AFP