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Gillibrand calls Trump a 'bully' trying to silence her and his accusers

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., framed her war of words with President Donald Trump against the backdrop of America's watershed #MeToo movement.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on \"Today\"
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on "Today"TODAY

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand framed her war of words with President Donald Trump against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, saying the president needs to be held accountable for the sexual misconduct allegations against him and renewed calls for him to resign.

Gillibrand, in an interview on "Today" Wednesday, called the president a "bully" who is attempting to silence her and the more than a dozen women who have accused him of misconduct.

"He's a bully and he's been attacking different people across this country since he's been president," she said.

Trump claimed in his tweet on Tuesday that Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would beg him for campaign contributions before he was elected and that she "would do anything for them." The tweet was as swiftly denounced as sexist by many Democrats, who later called for an ethics investigation into the president.

In her interview, she invoked the #MeToo Movement, where women have shared stories of sexual harassment or assault, saying people want "quick justice" and the president should resign or face an ethics probe in Congress.

"I think this is a moment in time unlike any other with the 'Me Too' movement," Gillibrand said. "Women are feeling the ability to tell what happened to them, some of the worst moments they've lived, and tell it publicly."

She continued: "That is powerful and it is affecting everything and people are looking for justice ... whether it's in Hollywood, corporate America or Congress.

"If you put that in the context of multiple accusers who have accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment, that are credible, you need accountability and I think what people do want is accountability and he should resign.

"And if he's unwilling to, Congress should investigate," she added.

The president has forcefully denied all the allegations.

In his tweet, Trump also called Gillibrand a "lightweight" and a "total flunky" for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who along with Gillibrand represents New York. It came a day after she called on the president to resign amid a series of sexual misconduct and assault allegations against him.

Gillibrand hit back at the president, calling the tweet a "sexist smear" attempting to "silence my voice" and others who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

When asked on "Today" whether she read innuendo in the tweet, Gillibrand replied: "Certainly, that's how I and many people read it."

The White House said Tuesday afternoon that "only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read" the tweet as sexual innuendo.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that Trump's tweet was intended as a critique of the current campaign finance system and special interests that he's long-complained dominate Washington.

His phrasing was in no way sexist, Sanders insisted, because he's used it before in reference to both male and female lawmakers in the past.