Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been outspoken about sexually inappropriate behavior and comments among her Senate colleagues, though she hasn’t ever accused anyone by name as far as I know. To me, that suggests that they’re probably Democrats, but who knows? Excerpts form her 2014 book paint a picture of the congressional workplace resembling the Sterling-Cooper office on Mad Men.
Gillibrand recalled a time when an older senator discussed her recent weight loss with crude remarks. According to Gillibrand, the unnamed lawmaker walked up behind her, squeezed her waist, and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now, I like my girls chubby!”
Gillibrand said still more harassment occurred when she was forced to use the men’s gym.
“The women’s congressional gym happened to be closed for renovations, so I had to work out in the men’s. [While I was] on the elliptical, many of my colder male colleagues felt compelled to offer advice, such as this gem: ‘Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!’ Thanks, a–hole,” Gillibrand wrote.
However, Gillibrand wrote that the biggest moment of harassment came when she was still a member of the House.
“The prize comment came from a southern congressman who said, as he held my arm, walking me down the center aisle of the House chamber, ‘You know Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat,'” she recalled.
Asked whether she believes Leanne Tweeden who has come forward about then comedian now Senator Al Franken’s sexual misconduct toward her while on a USO tour, Gillibrand says she does believe Tweeden. She wouldn’t pull the trigger on demanding his resignation though.
Gillibrand briefly answered questions on Franken after a press conference where she re-introduced a bill to tackle sexual assault in the military.
She is also the co-author of a bill introduced Wednesday to overhaul policies to combat and report complaints of sexual harassment on Capitol Hill.
Gillibrand is “deeply concerned” and doesn’t think Franken’s response so far is enough.
Gillibrand told reporters that she didn’t think Franken’s response that the photo was supposed to be a joke is sufficient.
“They are deeply concerning, and I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken,” she said of the allegations.
Apparently, no reporter thought to ask what response would be “sufficient” and sufficient for what, exactly. Sufficient to absolve Franken? Sufficient for Franken to continue serving in the Senate? Sufficient to turn the sexual harassment and assault narrative back on the Republicans?
Asked if Franken should resign just like Moore should, Gillibrand reiterated both her opposition to Moore and her call to hear more from Franken.
“I feel very strongly that Roy Moore should not be a senator, and I feel strongly that if he is elected, that the Senate should have its own response to it,” she said. “I expect to hear more from Sen. Franken on this issue.”
There seems to be a rather strongly implied “or else” in that statement. Maybe Franken is one of the unnamed harassers in her book.
Like too many others in Washington, Gillibrand’s outrage is assuaged by her tribal loyalty.