Gillibrand Won't Criticize Clinton After Report She Ignored Advice to Fire Alleged Sexual Harasser

January 29, 2018

Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) on Monday hesitated to call out Hillary Clinton for ignoring recommendations to fire a top adviser accused of sexual harassment moments before saying "no one is above criticism" when it comes to sexual misconduct.

Gillibrand, whose named has been floated as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, appeared on ABC's "The View"  to discuss her efforts "leading the charge to take on sexual misconduct in Washington, D.C."

The senator first called on national Republicans to return any campaign donations they received from Steve Wynn, a Las Vegas casino magnate and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. Wynn resigned from his post with the RNC over the weekend after the Wall Street Journal reported numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him.

"The near silence is deafening coming from the Republicans. I really believe this should not be about any one party; it should not be partisan," Gillibrand said. "This kind of behavior is not OK, it is not acceptable. We need accountability ... I think Republicans need to speak out ... and hold their own accountable."

Wynn has denied the allegations levied against him.

Co-host Joy Behar then pressed Gillibrand on her efforts to pressure former Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) to resign after several women accused him of groping or kissing them without their consent. Franken ultimately resigned from the Senate earlier this month.

"I know that you led the charge to get Al Franken to resign from the Senate," Behar said to Gillibrand. "I just thought that was unfair to make him an example when the president of the United States has so many sexual harassment allegations against him and I don't see him going anywhere."

"Trump should resign ... he should be held accountable," Gillibrand said. "Again, this shouldn't be a partisan issue."

"But why'd you push Franken out?" Behar asked. "How about a hearing first?"

"He's entitled to a hearing, he is; he isn't entitled to my silence, Joy," Gillibrand responded. "What was alleged about Al Franken is very different from than what is alleged about Steve Wynn, about President Trump ... what was alleged about Roy Moore."

"We should be holding our leaders to a higher standard," Gillibrand added.

Meghan McCain asked Gillibrand why it took her almost 20 years to rebuke former President Bill Clinton for his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s. Last year, Gillibrand said that she believes Clinton should have resigned over the affair.

"I think this moment of time we're in is very different. I don't think we had the same conversation back then, the same lens, we didn't hold people accountable the same way that this moment is demanding today," Gillibrand said. "Today we are having a very different conversation, and there is a moment in time where we can do the right thing or we can fixate on one president."

"Do you regret campaigning with him, though?" McCain asked.

"It's not about any one president; it's not about anyone industry," Gillibrand responded.

McCain then shifted the conversation to a new report, published by the New York Times on Friday, that Clinton ignored the advice of her 2008 presidential campaign manager to fire one of her senior advisers, who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a younger female campaign staffer.

"You are a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton and consider her a mentor. Do you think her response this weekend was appropriate?" McCain asked.

"As you know, I think these things have to be dealt with whether you're a Democrat or Republican; you need transparency and accountability," Gillibrand said. "And no one is above criticism. In that case, I don't know all the details; I don't know if the punishment she chose was the correct one."

According to the Times report, Clinton did not fire her faith adviser, Burns Strider, instead ordering him to undergo counseling and docking several weeks of his pay.

On Friday night, Clinton responded to the report.

"A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred, but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed," Clinton tweeted. "I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard."