Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is basing her presidential campaign on the belief that America doesn’t value women. She paints herself as a champion of women, especially a champion of believing women who claim to have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed.
But the opening month of her campaign has shown this isn’t exactly the case. At a town hall event Monday night, Gillibrand reminded people, again, that she spoke up when former Sen. Al Franken was accused of sexual misconduct. She took specific aim at Democrat donors who were angry at her for demanding Franken resign without any form of due process to examine the claims against him.
"I had a choice whether to stay silent or not ... And if there are few democratic powerful donors who are angry because I stood up for women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, that's on them,” Gillibrand said at the event.
She also posted two tweets about Franken and donors Monday evening.
“I know the issue of Sen. Franken is hard for many Democrats. But he had eight credible sexual harassment allegations against him, and I had to choose whether to stay silent, or not. If some megadonors have a problem with that, that's on them,” she tweeted in one.
In the other, she said essentially the same thing but also asked for money.
“I knew that calling on Al Franken to resign was a risk, but silence wasn’t an option. I’m running for president to fight for a country that values women, and I’m ready to share this vision with the American people. Will you give $1 to help us bring our vision to the debate stage?” she tweeted.
The problem for Gillibrand is that she did choose silence — for 20 days after the first allegation against Franken was reported.
It was November 16, 2017 when Los Angeles radio anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of forcibly kissing her in 2006, while he was still a comedian. She also presented a photo of Franken holding his hands over her chest while she slept, as if her were groping her.
Gillibrand said nothing even after Tweeden provided the photo.
Gillibrand also said nothing on November 20, when a second woman claimed Franken groped her behind in 2010. The New York Democrat said nothing when two more women accused Franken on November 23, or when two more women made accusations against him on November 30.
It wasn’t until December 6 — 20 days after the first accusation — and only after a seventh woman came forward to accuse Franken, that Gillibrand and her colleagues began speaking out.
An eighth woman would also accuse Franken on that day.
Some of the allegations against Franken seemed thin, but of course that didn’t matter. Gillibrand is now pretending she spoke up immediately, not three weeks after the allegations began.
Gillibrand, at her town hall, also again addressed criticism that while she claims to “believe women,” one of her own female staffers resigned after the office did little to handle her claims of sexual harassment by a male staffer. That male staffer was close to Gillibrand. The male staffer was denied a promotion, but wasn’t fired until a year later when Politico began asking questions.
“In terms of my own office, the woman who came forward, she was believed, her allegations were taken seriously,” Gillibrand said at the town hall. “This employee was dearly valued. I told her that she was loved, by us, by our office, by me personally.”
The woman claimed Gillibrand’s staff told her the claim was a “misinterpretation” and a “he said, she said” situation.