Speaking to The New York Times Thursday, Gillibrand, who holds Hillary Clinton’s former seat, said of whether the former president should have stepped down, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response.”
Clinton was ultimately impeached over the scandal but was acquitted by the Senate and finished his term as president.
Gillibrand’s remarks are particularly noteworthy considering she was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton’s recent presidential campaign. She frequently spoke in support of the Clintons and traveled to campaign events to advocate for the former first lady.
“Things have changed today, and I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction,” she said. “And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump, and a very different conversation about allegations against him.”
Trump has been accused of sexual harassment on numerous occasions and memorably bragged in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape about being able to sexually assault women.
Gillibrand has been a strong advocate against sexual assault and for women’s rights. She championed a fight against rampant sexual assault in the military and introduced legislation meant to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
There’s been a growing national furor over sexual harassment and misconduct, including a remarkable House hearing earlier this week in which lawmakers addressed what they described as a rampant sexual harassment problem on Capitol Hill.
Philippe Reines, a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton, blasted Gillibrand on Twitter over the remarks.
“Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite,” he wrote. “Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.”
Reacting later Friday to Gillibrand’s comments, Hillary Clinton told WABC Radio that her husband had been “held accountable.”
“This was a painful time, not only in our marriage, but in our country, which I’ve written about,” Clinton said. “But it was investigated full, it was addressed at the time, he was held accountable. That is very different from what people seem to be remembering from that period because you can go back and look at the history.”
Clinton added: “I don’t know exactly what she was trying to say because her whole comment was somewhat contradictory. But I’ll let her speak for herself.”
Gillibrand’s comments came hours after the Democratic Party was rocked by the news that Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken groped and “forcibly kissed” a woman without her consent during an overseas USO tour in 2006, two years before Franken was elected to the Senate.
By Miranda Green, CNN