Late last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), pointing to the women who've accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, wrote, "We have a president who acknowledged on tape that he assaulted women. I would hope that he pays attention to what's going on and think about resigning." A day later, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told MSNBC, "The president should resign because he certainly has a track record, with more than 17 women, of horrific conduct."
A day after that, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) added, "I just watched Sen. Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign from his office. My question is, why isn't Donald Trump doing the same thing -- who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward?"
Oddly enough, the president didn't respond to any of these Democratic senators. Yesterday, however, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) wrote, "President Trump should resign. But, of course, he won't hold himself accountable. Therefore, Congress should investigate the multiple sexual harassment and assault allegations against him."
And that's when Trump lashed out.
"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!"
As presidential responses go, this one seemed nastier than most of Trump's usual retorts. The connotations surrounding "would do anything," for example, struck me as especially ugly rhetoric.
For that matter, it's not clear why the president said nothing when Sanders, Merkley, and Booker suggested he resign, but Trump quickly went low when Gillibrand said the same thing.
As for the New York senator's call for a congressional examination of the allegations against the president, Gillibrand isn't the only one thinking along these lines.
More than 50 female Democratic lawmakers on Monday asked the House oversight committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump.In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the Democratic Women's Working Group wrote that the country deserves "a full inquiry into the truth of these allegations.""At least 17 women have publicly accused the President of sexual misconduct," the letter, which was signed by 56 lawmakers, said. "We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations."
As of now, ignoring the controversy remains the Republican plan, though Trump appears to be doing his part to keep the story in the national spotlight, which may increase the pressure on GOP lawmakers to take the issue seriously.
Postscript: Let's also note that in response to questions about this yesterday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the alleged incidents "took place long before he was elected to be president, and the people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process."
First, that's not a denial of wrongdoing. Second, the fact that the alleged incidents pre-date Trump's presidency is irrelevant (see Franken, Al). And third, "the people of this country" cast nearly 3 million more votes for Trump's opponent, so this hardly constitutes an exoneration.