Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) on Tuesday did not defend Democratic colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) against attacks accusing her of destroying former Sen. Al Franken's (D., Minn.) career last year.
Whitehouse appeared on BuzzFeed‘s morning show "AM to DM" to discuss multiple issues, including the backlash against Gillibrand for being the first senator to call on Franken to resign after accusations of sexual misconduct from multiple women.
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One of the "AM to DM" co-hosts noted Whitehouse was one of many senators who called for Franken's resignation but said Gillibrand has received the majority of the heat from those who argue the Minnesota Democrat was pushed out too soon. She asked Whitehouse whether he believed Gillibrand deserved all the scrutiny.
"That’s going to be between her and the people who feel that way," Whitehouse said. "I think this was a very tough result for Al, but he did make his own choice. And I leave that to him to have made."
Whitehouse was then asked whether he believes Gillibrand has received more scrutiny because she's a woman.
"I couldn't tell you that," Whitehouse said.
Los Angeles radio host and model Leeann Tweeden was the first to accuse Franken of misconduct, alleging last November that he groped and kissed her without her consent while serving on a USO tour in 2006. Since then, at least seven other women have spoken up and alleged Franken touched or kissed them without their consent.
Following the allegations, Gillibrand, along with other female senators, called for Franken to resign from the Senate.
"While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve," she argued.
Gillibrand's call for Franken's resignation caused backlash from prominent female Democratic donors, many of whom said they would not support her anymore.
CNN host Jake Tapper asked Gillibrand earlier this summer about her decision to speak out on this issue, prompting her to talk about how difficult it was for her to speak out against Franken, saying she considered him a "friend."
"It was very difficult. I considered Al Franken a friend, and I thought he was a very strong senator and did excellent work on the judiciary committee. But we had eight credible allegations, and I got to the point where I felt enough was enough," Gillibrand said. "While the senator was entitled to every bit of due process he wanted, it was his choice. He could have stuck it out and gone through his ethics investigation. He could have sued any of the people who made allegations against him, but what he wasn’t entitled to was my silence."