President Trump attacked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in a sexually suggestive tweet Tuesday morning that implied Gillibrand would do just about anything for money, prompting a swift and immediate backlash.
“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. 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,” the president wrote. “Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
The tweet came as Trump is already facing negative publicity from renewed allegations from three women who had previously accused him of sexual harassment, which are coming amid the #MeToo movement that is roiling the nation and forcing powerful men accused of sexual misbehavior from their posts.
The backlash and criticism was near instantaneous, with Gillibrand replying directly to Trump on Twitter. “You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office,” she wrote.
Gillibrand was attending a bipartisan Bible study Tuesday morning when Trump’s tweet landed, and her phone was immediately filled with supportive and befuddled messages, wondering just what the president was thinking, a Gillibrand aide said.
Gretchen Carlson, the former Fox News personality whose lawsuit against Roger Ailes for sexual harassment led to the resignation of the late network chairman, also weighed in with a duo of tweets defending Gillibrand.
“What do u mean @SenGillibrand would ‘do anything’ for campaign contributions? By the way she isn’t a lightweight,” she wrote. In a second tweet, Carlson continued: “Sexual harassment is apolitical. Women will not be silenced no matter what party they are in. Period.”
Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, called Trump’s tweet “disgusting,” but also noted, “it will make the Gillibrand folks ecstatic.”
Katty Kay, an anchor for BCC World News America, also took to social media to respond to the president’s missive against Gillibrand, casting it in tweets as “clearly sexual” and “demeaning to women.”
“What is so maddening about the Gillibrand tweet is that women can be smart, work hard, become Senator and STILL get sexual c**p thrown at us,” she wrote. “Enough.”
Trump offered no evidence to support his wink-and-nod claim that Gillibrand had gone to him “begging” for campaign donations “and would do anything for them.” In fact, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit website that tracks campaign contributions, since 1996, Trump has donated $8,900 to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and $5,850 to Gillibrand.
Gillibrand met with Trump once in 2010, the Gillibrand aide said, and Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka, who has tried to cast herself as a champion of women, attended the meeting,
On Monday, Gillibrand, a leading voice in Congress for combating sexual assault in the military, became the fifth Democratic senator to call on Trump to step down because of the allegations of sexual misconduct against him — accusations the president has denied and the White House dismissed again on Monday.
“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.”
She joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in calling for Trump’s resignation.
Trump has not commented on the male senators’ demand that he resign.
Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator and a rising political star, is widely considered a likely 2020 presidential candidate against Trump, and the president’s Twitter assault Tuesday offered an early glimpse of just how vicious the next race for the White House could become.
Gillibrand, however, does have her critics. After she said in November that Bill Clinton should have resigned as president following his inappropriate affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, longtime Hillary Clinton adviser and confidant Philippe Reines excoriated her on Twitter for being ungrateful and two-faced.
“Senate voted to keep POTUS WJC. But not enough for you @SenGillibrand? Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck,” Reines wrote.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about why the president sent the tweet, or what exactly he was insinuating.
Joshua Dawsey contributed to this report.