- Screenshot/The View
- “The View” host Meghan McCain pressed Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to explain her recent change of heart concerning former President Bill Clinton’s fitness to serve following his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
- McCain implied that Gillibrand, a longtime advocate for victims of sexual abuse, maintained a politically convenient double-standard by allying herself closely with Clinton for years.
- Gillibrand argued that the #MeToo movement has shifted the conversation and changed her perspective on the issue.
Meghan McCain, the sole conservative member of ABC’s talk show “The View,” pressed Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to explain her recent change of heart concerning former President Bill Clinton’s fitness to serve following his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Last November, Gillibrand said that, in retrospect, Clinton – a longtime supporter of Gillibrand’s – should have resigned over his affair. And in December, the senator led her caucus in pressuring Democratic Sen. Al Franken, a close friend and ally, to leave office amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct. In Congress, the senator has long fought for victims of sexual abuse in the military and on college campuses.
“Senator, you have dedicated your political career to this fight, obviously,” McCain said during Gillibrand’s Monday interview on “The View.” “That’s why a lot of people were really surprised that it took you 20 years to say that Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Lewinsky scandal.”
Gillibrand credited the #MeToo movement, which has brought new attention to sexual misconduct and workplace harassment, with her change of heart. (She remains the only prominent elected Democrat to argue that Clinton should have resigned.)
“I think this moment of time we’re in is very different,” the senator responded. “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 – or many of us – didn’t have that same lens, myself included.”
McCain cut in to ask whether Gillibrand regrets having campaigned with Clinton. But the senator did not answer the question directly, and instead argued that focusing on one perpetrator’s wrongdoing detracts from the broader movement.
“It’s not about any one president and it’s not about any one industry,” Gillibrand said. “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.”
McCain also asked Gillibrand whether Hillary Clinton dealt appropriately with her former faith adviser, Burns Strider, who was accused by a female subordinate of sexual harassment on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to a Friday New York Times report. Clinton’s former campaign manager said the candidate overruled her recommendation to fire Strider, who remained on the campaign and was later fired from a Clinton-aligned super PAC for sexual harassment.
Gillibrand declined the opportunity to condemn Clinton’s decision to keep Strider on, arguing that she didn’t know “all the details” about the allegations against him.
“I don’t know if the punishment she chose was the right punishment,” the senator said of her longtime ally, pivoting away from the question, “But what it does bring us to talk about is this issue of workplace harassment.”
Watch the full interview below: