Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said she misses her former colleague, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., but stood by her decision to call for his resignation as he faced several sexual misconduct allegations in 2017.
"We are all concerned about Senator Franken and frankly we all miss him," Gillibrand, a 2020 hopeful, said during an Iowa town hall on Thursday. "He was someone who really served us well on the Judiciary Committee and was a strong senator but the truth is that he had eight credible allegations against him."
Gillibrand added that she and other female Democrats "couldn't carry his water any farther." "I couldn't defend him," she added, citing her political efforts to end sexual assault on college campuses and in the military. She said that while Franken had a "right" to stay in Congress and sue his accusers, he alone decided to resign.
"That was his decision and his decision alone. No member of Congress, no other senator can make another senator resign," she said. "We are only asked, 'what do you think?'" Gillibrand's decision reportedly angered more than a dozen prominent donors in her party, prompting some to refuse contributing to her campaign unless she became the Democratic nominee.
“Once the whole thing happened with Al Franken, it was confirmed one billion percent that she’s not to be trusted," a Manhattan donor told Politico. "I think that she hurt the Democratic Party. I think that she hurt the Senate. I think that what she did for women in politics was dreadful.”
After her campaign announcement earlier this year, Gillibrand raised less money than most of the other candidates in her party. She also reportedly lacked support from her colleagues in her own state and a Fox News poll showed her lagging in the percentage of Democrats who would be satisfied if she became the party's nominee.