House and Senate Republicans raced to finish their tax bill. Both parties postured about a government shutdown. All of that was drowned out Tuesday by President Donald Trump’s Twitter war with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
The president went after the New York Democrat with a Tuesday morning tweet that alleged she “would do anything” for his campaign contributions before he ran for president.
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
Gillibrand and other Democrats spent much of the day blasting Trump for what they labeled sexual innuendo beneath the dignity of the White House.
“That tweet was nasty — unbecoming of the president,” Schumer said, coming to the defense of his fellow New Yorker.
Tuesday’s Trump-Gillibrand back-and-forth was a possible 2020 preview. The junior New York senator is among a list of Democrats mentioned as possible presidential contenders. So is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who fired a tweet back at Trump asking if he was trying to “bully, intimidate and slut-shame” Gillibrand.
“Good luck with that,” Warren wrote.
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted. https://t.co/mYJtBZfxiu— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 12, 2017
In his tweet, the president dubbed Gillibrand a “lightweight” and “a total flunky for Chuck Schumer” before telling his 44 million followers that she would “come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them).”
Gillibrand hit back a few hours later with a tweet of her own, telling him: “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.”
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. https://t.co/UbQZqubXZv— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 12, 2017
What set Trump off? Gillibrand told CNN on Monday that Trump should resign due to the allegations of sexual misconduct against him and was one of more than 50 female Democratic lawmakers asking the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to open an investigation into those allegations.
As expected, just what the president meant by “anything” was the first question posed to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
She said Trump has “used the same sentiment” and terminology about politicians of both genders and parties for years while trying to expose “the corruption” of the political system.
Trump said last year 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney “would have dropped to his knees” to get his endorsement.
Sanders told reporters Trump has used that terminology “many times” over the years, so “there’s no way that [tweet] is sexist at all.” She also denied that the president’s attack was any more personal than Gillibrand’s recent hard criticism and calls for him to step down.
The president’s tweet about Gillibrand came up when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of the California delegation addressed reporters after a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence about the federal response to forest fires in their state.
But McCarthy was not interested in addressing the matter when asked if the tweet was productive as lawmakers race to come up with a final tax package and avert a government shutdown next Friday night.
“I watched the president sign the NDAA. That was productive,” McCarthy said of the fiscal 2018 Pentagon policy bill. And with that, they had to go.
“You think I could control that,” he said, turning to leave. “But I can’t.”
Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report.