- Reuters/Larry Downing
- The prominent Democratic senator Kirsten Gillibrand has spoken out against Bill Clinton.
- Gillibrand, who holds Hillary Clinton’s old Senate seat, said Bill Clinton should have resigned as president over his affair with a young intern.
- Other prominent liberals have begun criticizing the former president amid the #MeToo movement.
- But Gillibrand has frequently praised and fund-raised with Bill Clinton.
- Some are now calling her a hypocrite.
The US reckoning on sexual-misconduct allegations against powerful men has turned to former President Bill Clinton, and his critics now include important liberal voices.
On Thursday, the same day that the TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden accused Democratic Sen. Al Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her in 2006, Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic senator who holds Hillary Clinton’s former seat, said the former president should have resigned after his own sex scandal.
Asked whether Clinton should have resigned as president after his affair with a young intern, Gillibrand on Thursday replied, “Yes, I think that is the appropriate response,” The New York Times reported.
The Times suggested Gillibrand tried to clarify that she meant Clinton’s affair should have resulted in a resignation specifically when judged by today’s standards, but the condemnation was still notable given Gillibrand’s ties to the Clintons.
Just last year, when Gillibrand endorsed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run, she wrote that she was returning the favor after being “truly honored that President Bill Clinton campaigned for me in my first run for Congress in 2006.”
Gillibrand’s strongest rebuke yet of Clinton followed other prominent voices in liberal politics, like Vox’s Matt Yglesias.
In a 2007 article discussing the prospect of impeaching President George W. Bush, Yglesias wrote that the case for impeaching Clinton almost a decade earlier was “very trumped-up and trivial” and owed at least in part to political motives.
But on Wednesday, Yglesias published a long article on Vox titled “Bill Clinton should have resigned.”
The MSNBC host Chris Hayes, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, and the Atlantic contributor Caitlin Flanagan all similarly called on the Democratic Party to reckon with Clinton’s history, which includes allegations of sexual harassment and of rape, amid the #MeToo movement that encourages women who have been harassed or assaulted to come forward.
- Lucas Jackson/Reuters
While liberal pundits have called for coming to terms with the past, some have questioned the timing of the shift in tone.
Reacting to Gillibrand’s statement’s on Clinton, Philippe Reines, a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton, tweeted: “Over 20 yrs you took the Clintons’ endorsements, money, and seat. Hypocrite. Interesting strategy for 2020 primaries. Best of luck.”
Besides the issue of her husband’s legacy, Hillary Clinton has also come under scrutiny as the former Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile recently accused Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign of unethically controlling the party and skewing the primary against Clinton’s main challenger, Bernie Sanders.