U.S. President Donald Trump attacked New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in a sexually suggestive tweet Tuesday morning stating that Gillibrand “would do anything” for money, prompting a swift backlash from Democrats who accused Trump of sexism and “slut shaming.”
“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Trump tweeted.
Gillibrand, who had called for Trump’s resignation after three women urged Congress to investigate the president for sexual misconduct, said Trump’s tweet was a “sexist smear” designed to intimidate her.
“It’s part of the president’s effort at name calling and it’s not going to silence me,” she said.
The backlash against Trump’s tweet was immediate.
Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox News personality whose lawsuit against Roger Ailes for sexual harassment led to Ailes’ resignation as chairman and CEO of Fox News, defended Gillibrand in a series of tweets.
“What do u mean @SenGillibrand would ‘do anything’ for campaign contributions? By the way she isn’t a lightweight,” she wrote.
“Sexual harassment is apolitical,” Carlson said in a second tweet. “Women will not be silenced no matter what party they are in. Period.”
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Trump of trying to “bully, intimidate and slut-shame” Gillibrand.
“Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame Sen. Gillibrand?” Warren tweeted. “Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that. … Nevertheless, #shepersisted.”
And Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) called Trump’s tweet about Gillibrand “ugly and suggestive.”
“That was an ugly and suggestive tweet, and we all know what he was trying to say there, and it is beneath the office of the presidency,” Swalwell said.
Patti Solis Doyle, a one-time Hillary Clinton campaign official, wrote that Trump’s tweet made a “vile, disgusting implication” about Gillibrand.
Trump did not offer any evidence on his suggestion that Gillibrand had gone to him “begging” for campaign donations “and would do anything for them.” Trump has donated $8,900 to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and $5,850 to Gillibrand, according to Open Secrets, a non-profit that tracks campaign contributions.
On Monday, three women — Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks — who previously accused Trump of sexual harassment during the 2016 election, shared their stories on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today and urged Congress to investigate Trump’s behaviour.
“We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say, ‘Meh, we don’t care,’ it hurt,” Holvey said.
“The environment’s different; let’s try again,” Holvey said referring to the #MeToo movement and the ongoing revelations of sexual misconduct by prominent men in business, media, politics and the entertainment world.
Gillibrand was among several Democrats who called on Trump to step down because of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
“President Trump has committed assault, according to these women, and those are very credible allegations of misconduct and criminal activity, and he should be fully investigated and he should resign,” Gillibrand said on CNN. “These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I’ve heard these women’s testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.”
On Tuesday another woman spoke out asking why Congress has not investigated the allegations against the president.
“It’s important that we hold this man to the highest standards,” Melinda McGillivray, said in an interview on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today. McGillivray has accused Trump of groping her at Mar-a-Lago in 2003,
“If 16 women have come forward, then why hasn’t anything been done? Where is our investigation? I want justice.”
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Trump denied the allegations saying he doesn’t “know and/or have never met” the women he accused of fabricating the stories.
It was unclear who Trump is referring to as the list of people who’ve accused him of misconduct includes a former business partner, a reporter who interviewed him, a former contestant on his Apprentice TV show, and a Miss USA pageant contestant, among others.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders echoed Trump’s comments during a press conference Monday.
“The president has denied any of these allegations,” Sanders said. “The American people knew this and voted for the president and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in this process.”
— With files from the Associated Press