President Trump’s Twitter assault on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, which she called a “sexist smear,” is fueling Democratic calls for congressional investigation on the president’s own suspected past sexual misconduct, with some even joining the call for him to walk out.
Democrats in the House and Senate said the tweet emphasize the need for the president to be held to account at a time when nuisance accusations are feeling powerful men from Hollywood to Washington.
“He does a favor by drawing attention to this issue so I think it’s a boomerang back on the president,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. “It was intended to certainly harass her,” he said of the tweet, calling for hearings to enable every woman who has a story about Trump to “get a clear, full chance to share that with the American people.”
Gillibrand is among six Democratic senators who’ve called for Trump’s resignation after a week in which sexual harassment claim forced the resignations of three lawmakers in both parties. The allegations are similar to those levels against Trump by at least a dozen women during his 2016 campaign.
The New York lawmaker is the only senator Trump chose to assault Twitter.
Gillibrand used to come “begging” for campaign contributions and “would do anything for them,” Trump said.
In a Tuesday morning news conference, Gillibrand said the tweet “is a sexist smear” and “part of the president’s effort at name calling… It is intended to silence me.”
The president’s broadside against Gillibrand is among a number of reasons putting a spotlight on Trump’s suspected sexual probing and harassment of women that was a major operation controversy. On Tuesday night, voters in Alabama will also decide whether to send to the U.S. Senate Roy Moore, the GOP nominee indicted by several women of sexually touching or harassing teenage girls decades ago.
Several women on Monday invigorated their allegations that Trump, a former New York businessman, sexually harassed or assaulted them and called for a congressional inquiry.
White House spokeswoman Sarah H. Sanders rejected Democratic condemnation that the tweet was sexist and incorporated sexual innuendo. “He’s talking about the way our system functions …. that politicians regularly beg for money,” said Sanders. “There is no way that this is sexist at all.”
On Tuesday, Gillibrand was in a weekly bipartisan Senate Bible study group when her phone ringed, according to two Democratic aides not endorsed to speak openly. The aides educated her of Trump’s tweet and asked how she wanted to take action. Gillibrand uttered her answer and went back to the group congregated in the Hart Senate Building as Twitter exploded with other Democrats rallying to her defense.
Within moments of Trump’s tweet, a number of her female Senate colleagues took to Twitter to lambaste the president. Trump is a “misogynist, habitual liar, and admitted sexual predator,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.
Hirono also called for Trump to quit, along with Merkley, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a self-determining who caucuses with Democrats.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also fired back: “Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that,” Warren said in an earlier tweet.
In the House, the Democratic Women’s Working Group holds a news conference calling on the House Oversight Committee to examine sexual misconduct allegations.
Trump did not explain what he meant by “do anything” for campaign contributions, or how Gillibrand might have been “USED” by Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Last month, Gillibrand startled associate Democrats by saying President Bill Clinton should have resigned in 1998 amid the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio.)
Most Republicans on Capitol Hill refused to comment on the president’s tweet. Asked about the Democratic uproar, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., quipped: “It’s all political.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said his panel would not examine the allegations besides Trump but would refer any probable cases to the Justice Department.
Gillibrand is considered a potential contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who recently made headlines by condemned former President Bill Clinton over his affair with a White House intern. She’s made the subject of addressing sexual attack, including in the military, a cornerstone of her Senate career and later helped lead the charge for Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign.
Gillibrand has also called for congressional hearings into the concern in particular since the backlash against sexual annoyance sweeping the country has resulted in the resignations of other politicians, including Franken and Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.