(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump set off a Twitter war of words on Tuesday with three of the Senate’s most powerful women, after his attack on Kirsten Gillibrand was answered by Elizabeth Warren, who accused him of ‘slut-shaming’ her New York colleague.
Gillibrand on Monday said that the president should resign over allegations by 16 women that he engaged in sexual misconduct. Trump responded early Tuesday with a tweet that called her a “lightweight” and “a total flunky” for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, adding that she was “someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).”
The parenthetical in particular drew outrage on Twitter, and Warren tweeted in Gillibrand’s defense.
Denies Sexual Innuendo
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s statement, saying he didn’t intend any sexual innuendo. “Only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way,” she added.
“He’s talking about the way our system functions as it is. That politicians repeatedly beg for money,” Sanders said. “He’s used that same terminology many times in reference to men. There’s no way that is sexist at all.”
Sanders called Gillibrand “a wholly owned subsidiary of people who donate to her campaign.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, followed Warren into the fray. “Another disgusting tweet from Thin-Skinned Donald Trump. This man has a problem, plain and simple. He lashes out at women and doesn’t seem to be able to control his impulses. For the good of the nation, he should delete his account,” Feinstein said on Twitter.
Schumer told reporters that Trump’s Twitter attack on Gillibrand “was nasty, unbecoming of a president.”
Responding to Trump’s attack, Gillibrand tweeted: “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.”
Trump and the White House have denied all of the allegations against him, even as he and his aides have advocated for Democrats accused of misconduct with women to be held accountable. Representative John Conyers of Michigan and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota both announced their resignations last week following allegations against them by several women and pressure from their Democratic colleagues.
Gillibrand said on 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.”
Three of the women who’ve accused Trump of misconduct -- Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks and Samantha Holvey -- asked on Monday for a congressional investigation into their allegations. Leeds and Crooks say that Trump made sexual contact with them without their consent, and Holvey says that Trump behaved inappropriately with contestants in the Miss USA pageant he owned.
During a 2005 interview with radio shock-jock Howard Stern, Trump boasted of walking into dressing rooms while pageant contestants were undressed.
‘In the Ring’
Trump has denied allegations of sexual misconduct since they were first reported ahead of the 2016 presidential election. He went further with that denial on Tuesday, saying on Twitter that he doesn’t know or had never met any of the women, who he said had made “false accusations and fabricated stories.”
It was not clear whether he was referring to Leeds, Hooks and Holvey specifically or to all 16 of his accusers. The broader group includes people whom Trump cannot plausibly claim never to have met, including a former business associate, a journalist who interviewed him and a contestant on his reality show “The Apprentice.”
Gillibrand also said last month that Bill Clinton should have resigned after his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s.
Gillibrand “is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday, referring to former President Bill Clinton and former 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
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