Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandLawmakers reach compromise on annual defense policy bill Ex-officials voice deep concerns over new Pentagon UFO unit Paid leave advocates ramping up the pressure on Manchin and Schumer MORE on Monday defended her call for former Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to resign, saying that credible allegations of sexual misconduct are "not too high a standard."
The statement from the New York senator came shortly after South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden's proposals spark phase 2 of supply chain crisis Biden returns restores tradition, returning to Kennedy Center Honors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (D), who is also running for president, voiced concerns about the pressure Franken faced to resign before Congress learned more about the accusations against him.
"Eight credible allegations of sexual harassment, two since he was elected senator, and one from a congressional staffer," Gillibrand said in a statement shared on Twitter. "That is not too high a standard, regardless of how the Republican Party handles this behavior, and worse. Yes, it was Senator Franken’s decision alone to leave the Senate — a path he ultimately chose — but for many senators, including myself and others in this primary field, that was not too high a of a bar to raise our voices and make clear we value women."
Franken resigned in January 2018 after multiple women came forward to accuse him of inappropriate conduct, including kissing without consent. His resignation came as he faced pressure from multiple Democratic lawmakers, including Gillibrand, to step down.
Buttigieg said in a MSNBC town hall on Monday night that he wouldn't have pressured Franken to resign until the public knew more.
"I would not have applied that pressure at that time before we knew more," he said when pressed by MSNBC's Chris Matthews.
The 37-year-old added that the way Democrats "basically held [Franken] to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us."
"I think it is not a bad thing that we hold ourselves to a higher standard," he continued.
Gillibrand, who was the first senator to call for Franken's resignation, has repeatedly stood by her decision. She said in March that she "stood up for women who came forward" in doing so.