White House Calls Inferences Over Trump's Tweet at Gillibrand 'Gutter'

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) listens to a staffer before answering questions at a news conference Dec. 12, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON — Six senators have called for President Trump to resign over sexual harassment allegations — Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) — but Trump chose to go after one of them on Twitter.

“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!” Trump tweeted this morning.

Trump donated $2,100 to the Gillibrand Victory Fund PAC in 2007, $1,050 to her 2007-08 congressional campaign, and $2,400 for the primary and general election in her 2010 Senate special election campaign.

Gillibrand tweeted back, “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.”

At a news conference, Gillibrand explained she was referring to Trump accusers former Miss America contestant Samantha Holvey, former Trump Tower receptionist Rachel Crooks, and Jessica Leeds, who told their stories in a news conference and on the Today show on Monday. The three are included in the new film 16 Women and Donald Trump.

Gillbrand told CNN on Monday that “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.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused Trump of “trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame” Gillibrand. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Trump’s tweet “is grotesque — it took my breath away.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the comments “sexist slurs.” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) called on the president to apologize to Gillibrand “immediately, take down this tweet, halt your efforts to silence women who speak out, and stop degrading the Office of the Presidency.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump’s tweet “shameful & disgusting.”

“I would say that, as with many things the President says, it is likely a projection of his own behavior,” Pelosi tweeted.

The White House said those who interpreted the tweet as saying Gillibrand would do anything for campaign money, including sexual favors, were off: “Only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

“I think that the president is very obvious, this is the same sentiment that the president has expressed many times before when he’s exposed the corruption of the entire political system. In fact, he’s used similar terminology many times when talking about politicians of both parties, both men and women. And certainly in his campaign to drain the swamp. The system is clearly broken, it’s clearly rigged for special interests, and this president is someone that can’t be bought, and it’s one of the reasons that he’s president today,” Sanders said. “He’s not alleging anything; he’s talking about the way that our system functions as it is. That politicians repeatedly beg for money, that’s not something new, and that comment frankly isn’t something new.”

Asked what Trump got for his political contributions to Gillibrand, Sanders replied that “you’re getting access.”

“A member of Congress will take your phone call. They’ll take your meeting. And if you’re driving something as a businessman, that the president may or may not have been driving at any particular point, you can talk to that individual about it, and sometimes they carry your water,” she added. “…I think that he’s admitting that he’s participating in a rigged system. He said that on the campaign trail. He knows how the system works. I think it would be disingenuous for anybody not to understand that.”