Gillibrand aide resigned over handling of sexual misconduct claim
14 March, 2019, 00:23 | Author: Wade Massey
Last July, a female staffer in her mid-20s alleged that one of Gillibrand's longtime aides made several unwanted sexual advances soon after the senator told him he would be promoted into a supervisory role over her.
Gillibrand has been one of the most outspoken Senators on the #MeToo movement and as Wolf Blitzer pointed out Monday night, the development has proven "awkward" for the 2020 hopeful. Kirsten Gillibrand is defending her office's handling of claims of sexual harassment by a staffer, stating that her Senate office took the allegation seriously "every step" of the way.
The office said that after an internal investigation, Malik's actions didn't rise to the level of sexual harassment, although he was punished by not getting an expected promotion and given a final warning.
Gillibrand's office said the male staffer was sacked last week after additional "troubling comments" he allegedly made were revealed.
The woman told Politico about a so-called empty gesture from Gillibrand, who hugged the woman after the investigation but before she quit and said, "We love you".
In a statement to BBC News on Monday, the senator said: "As I have long said, when allegations are made in the workplace, we must believe women so that serious investigations can actually take place, we can learn the facts, and there can be appropriate accountability".
She said the Senate office "immediately began another investigation and interviewed relevant witnesses, which has led to the office terminating the employee from staff last week".
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The former aide said she was "deeply confused" and "saddened" by what she heard, prompting her to discuss the matter later in the afternoon with Fassler and Bradley. Gillibrand's office then opened a new investigation and dismissed Malik last week.
According to Politico, the young woman wrote in her letter to the NY senator: "Your office chose to go against your public belief that women shouldn't accept sexual harassment in any form and portrayed my experience as a misinterpretation instead of what it actually was: harassment and ultimately, intimidation".
Despite Gillibrand's defense of thoroughness, she ultimately fired the man at the center of the allegations last week after Politico presented her office with the findings of their investigation. Malik, who is married and a decade older than the female aide, worked as Gillibrand's driver and later her military adviser.
He did not respond to Politico's request for comment. They said Malik regularly made misogynistic jokes, frequently appraised what they wore, disparaged the looks of other female staffers and rated the attractiveness of women who came in for interviews.
Gillibrand's office never responded to the letter. But the New York Democrat now faces a sexual harassment crisis of her own, and the reverberations could jeopardize her new presidential campaign. "That's exactly what happened at every step of this case previous year", the senator explained. She recalled one instance in which Malik remarked that a particular woman they were talking about "couldn't get laid unless she was raped".
Two more staffers who worked for Gillibrand said the woman's claims of Malik's inappropriate workplace behavior matched their own experiences. Al Franken following allegations of sexual misconduct against him. And she ignited a firestorm that same year when she suggested that Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency during the scandal over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Gillibrand's office for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
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