Politics & Policy

The Corner

Kirsten Gillibrand Exposes Her Political Opportunism on the #MeToo Movement

In an interview on The View yesterday, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand exposed just how shallow her support for the #MeToo movement really is . . . about as shallow as the rest of her opportunistic political positions.

When co-host Joy Behar lobbed the Democratic senator a softball about sexual-assault allegations against Steve Wynn, former finance chair of the Republican National Committee, Gillibrand demanded a zero-tolerance policy, insisting that Republicans should return all of Wynn’s past donations.

“The near-silence is deafening, coming from the Republicans,” she intoned. “I really believe this should not be about any one party. It should not be partisan. . . . They need to send the money back and hold their own accountable. . . . I don’t think these issues should be political.”

Behar then noted the sexual-misconduct allegations against President Trump over the years, to which Gillibrand replied, “He should resign because of that. . . . I’ve not heard that from any Republicans. . . . Again, it shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”

When Behar mentioned Minnesota Democrat Al Franken — who resigned from the Senate late last year in the wake of sexual-abuse allegations against him — Gillibrand softened, but insisted that, despite being her friend, Franken was not entitled to her silence. She neatly side-stepped, of course, the fact that she spent several weeks equivocating over the Franken accusations, repeatedly avoiding media questions and saying it was “his decision” as to whether he ought to resign.

But it wasn’t until View co-host Meghan McCain spoke up that Gillibrand had to really contort herself. McCain noted recent claims that Hillary Clinton covered for a top campaign adviser accused of sexual harassment, refusing to fire him, before he went on to harass other subordinates. “You’re a long-time supporter of the Clintons and consider her a mentor. Do you think her response this weekend was appropriate?” McCain asked.

“You need transparency and accountability, and no one is above criticism. But, in that case, I don’t know all the details,” Gillibrand hedged, before quickly pivoting to pontificate on the generic evils of workplace harassment.

McCain pushed back, and Gillibrand’s rhetoric grew even more muddled. Here’s the rest of their exchange:

McCain: Senator, you have dedicated your political career to this fight, obviously. That’s why a lot of people were really surprised that it took you 20 years to say that Bill Clinton should’ve resigned over the Lewinsky scandal. So what do you say to that?

Gillibrand: I think this moment of time we’re in is very different. I don’t think we had the same conversation back then, the same lens. We didn’t hold people accountable in the same way that this moment is demanding today. And I think all of us, many of us, did not have that same lens, myself included. But today, we are having a very different conversation, and there is a moment in time where we can actually do the right thing or fixate on one president.

McCain: Can I ask you, do you regret campaigning with him, though?

Gillibrand: It’s not about any one president, and it’s not about any one industry. And if we reduce it to that, we are missing the opportunity to allow women to be heard, to allow women to have accountability and transparency, and to allow women to have justice. [Applause]

All it took was a few pointed questions for Gillibrand to collapse like a house of cards, retreating behind empty rhetoric about transparency and completely ignoring the fact that her own political allies have been credibly accused of both committing and covering up sexual abuse. To answer McCain’s questions, of course, the senator would have to either excuse the intentional obfuscation of sexual misconduct or speak ill of her friends the Clintons. Faced with that Sophie’s choice, Gillibrand immediately forgot her previous insistence on a non-partisan approach to sexual violence and refused to answer.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Over her entire career, Gillibrand has continually proven herself to be a hollowed-out vessel for whatever view will best help her climb the political ladder. This is why, for example, she earned a 100 percent rating from the NRA when she was a congresswoman from upstate New York, but quickly and intentionally tanked her rating as soon as she decided to run for Senate. Additional examples abound.

Sexual-abuse survivors preyed on by Gillibrand’s political allies are simply the latest victims.

Here’s the full video of the exchange on The View:

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