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Did Al Franken Grab Kathie Lee Gifford's Butt Years Ago?

Nov. 24 2017, Updated 9:52 p.m. ET

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Al Franken is in hot water again after an old Howard Stern radio show interview has surfaced in which he apparently boasted about grabbing Kathie Lee Gifford's butt. But he later backpedaled on the story and denied the alleged inappropriate grope.

The Minnesota Senator -- who has refused to resign after Leeann Tweeden released a photo of him groping her chest as she slept and faces charges from a couple of other women -- appeared on the Stern show in 1999, as the Grabien website reported.

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Franken, now 66, wasn't in politics then but was a well-known funnyman while Gifford appeared on the TV show Live with Kathie & Regis opposite Regis Philbin.

The controversy started when the Stern show's executive producer Gary Dell-Abate said on-air, "I was talking to Al earlier in the green room, and he was telling me — I was asking him if he ever does, you know, Kathie & Regis, he was telling me how he used to co-host with Kathie Lee."

Gary Dell-Abate continued, "He said he kissed her and grabbed her ass."

At that point, Franken didn't deny what he'd allegedly told Dell-Abate, but the two switched to other topics, including Franken saying he was happily married.

Later, however, a caller who went by the name "Big Black," phoned in to the Stern show to bring up the Gifford story again.

Big Black noted that National Enquirer columnist, Mike Walker, had reported six months earlier that Gifford had asked her show's staff to never book Franken as a co-host again because of the alleged groping.

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Franken was asked, "Did you grab Kathie Lee's ass?"

The comedian replied, "She grabbed my ass."

Franken sounded shaken but then denied touching Gifford, saying, "No, uh, yeah, I think Walker reported that and he was wrong."

The Saturday Night Live star Franken then changed the topic to asking whether the caller saw his show with Gifford.

He later reiterated his denial of inappropriately touching Gifford -- even though the Stern producer had claimed he had admitted to it off air!

The caller said of Gifford, "She was very uncomfortable in that show though."

"I did not grab her ass" Franken insisted, as the radio transcript obtained by Grabien shows.

"I certainly did not touch her in any way to arouse her or gratify her," Franken said.

Tweeden and radio host Melanie Morgan have accused Franken of sexual harassment, and two more women have just come forward to accuse him of inappropriate touching, as the Huffington Post reported.

One woman told HuffPost that Franken had grabbed her backside an event honoring women.

He's been a senator for Minnesota since 2009. Franken has been married to wife Franni Bryson since 1975 and they have two grown children.

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