WASHINGTON • Former United States president Bill Clinton should have resigned the presidency after having a relationship with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, the most prominent liberal to weigh in as the issue has moved from conservative media to a wider chorus of voices in recent days.
Ms Gillibrand said on Thursday she thought it would have been "the appropriate response", when asked if Mr Clinton should have stepped down by a reporter.
In recent weeks, unreported sexual misconduct and harassment allegations have been brought against figures in Hollywood, media, technology and politics, on all sides of the political spectrum.
Last week, after a Washington Post report detailed an accusation that Alabama's Republican Senate hopeful Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old decades before, some liberal commentators returned to Mr Clinton's behaviour, spurred by what many said was a sense of responsibility in the wake of a national discussion about sexual aggression, harassment and assault committed by powerful men.
"The Democratic Party needs to make its own reckoning of the way it protected Bill Clinton," Ms Caitlin Flanagan wrote in the Atlantic. "The party was on the wrong side of history, and there are consequences for that."
In an interview with WABC radio on Friday, Mrs Hillary Clinton said that she didn't "exactly know what" Ms Gillibrand was trying to say.
Mr Philippe Reines, a former Clinton aide and confidant, quickly attacked Ms Gillibrand for the remark, saying that Mr Ken Starr, the independent counsel in the Lewinsky investigation, spent US$70 million (S$95 million) on a consensual act and that the Senate voted then to keep Mr Clinton in office.
Ms Gillibrand struck back on Friday."It's ridiculous and he's wrong," she said in an interview on MSNBC. "We need to have the highest standards for elected leaders and we have to change what is happening throughout society and we have to allow people to tell their stories."