Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand blasted Republicans for failing to speak out enough against Steve Wynn, who resigned as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after publication of sexual misconduct allegations against him.
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“The silence is deafening,” said Gillibrand of New York said on ABC’s “The View.” “This kind of behavior is not OK. It’s not acceptable. We need accountability, and I think the Republicans should show far more leadership than they are today.”
Wynn, 76, a casino and real estate mogul, stepped down from the RNC on Saturday, just over 24 hours after publication of multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him.
Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan later announced he would give to charity a campaign donation he received from Wynn in 2016.
Casino mogul Steve Wynn steps down from RNC in face of sexual misconduct claims
The fallout continues from Harvey Weinstein scandal
Wynn’s departure from the RNC came as some liberal publications accused Republicans of hypocrisy.
In the fall, after reports of alleged sexual assault and harassment by Harvey Weinstein, Republicans called out Democrats who didn’t immediately give away political contributions they had received from the disgraced Hollywood producer.
On Oct. 5, when news broke of the accusations against Weinstein, at least four Democratic senators said they would make charitable donations equal to amounts donated to them by Weinstein. The Democratic National Committee (DNC), which had taken in more than $290,000 from Weinstein, according to the FEC, released a statement on the afternoon of Oct. 6 that said it would donate $30,000 of his contributions to women’s advocacy groups.
Gillibrand said Monday that Republicans should similarly speak out on the allegations against Wynn, send money back that he donated and “hold their own accountable.”
“I really believe this should not be about any one party,” the New York senator said on “The View”. “It should not be partisan.”
Gillibrand also addressed questions over her calling for the resignation of then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in December after reports of allegations of misconduct allegations against him.
She said the move was “hard” and “heartbreaking.”
“I can’t be a good mother and senator if I am silenced just because it’s my friend,” she said of Franken. “I cannot be silenced because it’s my friend.”
“He’s entitled to a hearing, he is, but he’s not entitled to my silence,” Gillibrand continued. “I have a 14-year-old son. I have a 9-year-old son. How am I supposed to tell him, ‘It’s OK to grab a woman here; it’s OK to grab a woman here. But it’s not OK to grab a woman here?’ Absolutely not. I’m not going to have that conversation. That is the wrong conversation to be having.”
“Why wouldn’t you want to hold our elected leaders to the highest standard?” the senator said, adding that this includes President Donald Trump.
“Trump has over a dozen allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. He should be held accountable. I have not heard that from any Republicans. Start the trend. He should be held accountable and because he’s unwilling to resign, Congress should be doing hearings,” Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand was also asked about former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned for her in her 2006 race for Senate and whose wife, Hillary Clinton, formerly held Gillibrand’s Senate seat. Recently, Gillibrand said she thinks President Clinton should have resigned over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
“The View” co-host Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., asked why it took 20 years for Gillibrand to issue that opinion.
“We didn’t hold people accountable in the same way this moment is demanding today,” Gillibrand said of when Clinton was president in the 1990s. “I think all or many of us did not have that same lens, myself included. But today we are having a very different conversation.”
The Wall Street Journal on Friday reported that Wynn has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of people who shared similar accounts of his alleged pattern of abuse. Interviews conducted by the Journal with people who have worked at Wynn’s casinos detailed a decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct by him, with some saying he pressured employees to perform sex acts, the Journal reported.
Wynn’s attorneys declined to comment to the Journal.
Wynn said in a statement that any claim that he “ever assaulted any woman is preposterous.”
“We find ourselves in a world where people can make allegations, regardless of the truth, and a person is left with the choice of weathering insulting publicity or engaging in multi-year lawsuits,” Wynn said in the statement. “It is deplorable for anyone to find themselves in this situation.”