Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) presidential campaign took a new turn on Monday when she was forced to defend having called on former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) to resign, saying “eight credible allegations” of sexual misconduct were “not too high a standard.”
Gillibrand, who recently blamed “gender bias” for her struggle to gain traction in the crowded presidential field, made the comments in response to concerns fellow 2020 Democrat Pete Buttigieg raised about Franken being unfairly pressured to resign.
“Eight credible allegations of sexual harassment, two since he was elected senator, and one from a congressional staffer,” Gillibrand said in a statement shared on social media. “That is not too high a standard, regardless of how the Republican Party handles this behavior, and worse. Yes, it was Senator Franken’s decision alone to leave the Senate—a path he ultimately chose—but for many senators, including myself and others in this primary field, that was not too high a of a bar to raise our voices and make clear we value women.”
— Meredith Kelly (@meredithk27) June 4, 2019
During an MSNBC town hall on Monday, Buttgieg was asked by Chris Matthews if he thought Senate Democrats were right for having vigorously “pushed” Franken to leave.
“I think it was his decision to make, but I think the way we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people,” Buttigieg said. The South Bend hopeful added that he “would not have applied” the same “pressure at that time before we knew more.”
Gillibrand was the first Democratic senator to call for Franken to step aside when the allegations emerged in November 2017. Instead of being viewed as principled, Gillibrand’s move appears to have backfired with liberal activists deriding her as “opportunistic.”
The backlash has extended to Democratic mega-donors, like George Soros, who have promised to financially boycott the New York Democrat’s political ambitions because of the way she treated Franken.