The New York Democratic senator occupying Hillary Clinton’s former constituency says Bill Clinton should have resigned as president after his sexual encounter with intern Monica Lewinsky.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made the remarks on Thursday during an interview with The New Washington podcast, the New York Times reports. Gillibrand may not be the only Democrat to call out the former president for his workplace sexual misconduct, but her prominence makes her remarks significant. She was also an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has been a close friend of the Clintons.
Asked point blank if she thought Bill Clinton should have have resigned for his affair with Lewinsky, Gillibrand thought about her answer and said, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”
But she appeared to qualify that statement by suggesting that attitudes during the 1990s Clinton presidency were more forgiving of sexual impropriety in the office — even by a president.
“Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction,” Gillibrand said. “And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.”
Gillibrand’s qualification was further massaged by her spokesman who told the Times that she was speaking about Clinton’s actions in the current context where there is declining tolerance for sexual harassment.
Gillibrand was also asked about the report that her Democratic colleague, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, groped and kissed a Los Angeles radio personality.
“It’s very disturbing,” Ms. Gillibrand said of Mr. Franken. “I was very disappointed. But it’s important that survivors are coming out and speaking truth to power and telling their stories.”
The New York senator is promising to disperse all donations that she received from Franken’s political coffers to Protect Our Defenders, an organization formed to represent women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted in the military.
On Wednesday, Gillibrand introduced a bill that she had co-authored to fight sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.