Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand on Collins: ‘I Don’t Know How He Does It’

From the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was in Buffalo yesterday when the news broke that indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins would remain on the November ballot in the NY-27 general election race.

The Democrat called the insider trading accusation allegations against Collins very serious. The senator punted, however, when asked if she was surprised Collins had reversed course after suspending his campaign last month in the face of pressure from fellow Republican leaders.

“I don’t know his motivations,” Gillibrand said. “I just know no one’s above the law, and the voters will have the opportunity to be heard on that issue.”

If Collins were to win – a prospect many observers still believe is the most likely outcome in the state’s most GOP-dominated House district – Gillibrand said she believes he will have difficulty actually serving. It’s unclear if Collins would chose to resign, allowing for a special election to fill his seat, or remain in office while his legal battle plays out in federal court.

“I don’t know how he does it,” Gillibrand said. “I think we’re supposed to be public servants first, and obviously the allegations show that he was putting his financial gains first, that of his family and his family member’s friends.”

As for the congressman’s challenger, Democratic Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, Gillibrand said she hasn’t met him, but has heard great things about him.

The senator said she supports McMurray and believes he will win.

Gillibrand Says Trump Should Resign

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told reporters in Syracuse Friday that President Donald Trump should resign after his former personal lawyer implicated him in violating campaign finance law.

But she stopped short of saying whether impeachment proceedings should begin against the president, urging more time for an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to run its course.

“I’m very concerned about the status of the Mueller investigation right now,” she said during a tour of the state fairgrounds. “The fact that his lawyer implicated him in federal crimes is very concerning and I think given that and everything else, yes, he should resign.”

But Gillibrand added it was too early for Congress to move forward on impeachment proceedings, saying it’s Robert Mueller must first complete his investigation. She pointed to legislation backed by Democrats in Congress that would bolster the special counsel’s investigation should the president seek to end it

“It would be premature for Congress to act,” she said. “What we should do is protect that investigation.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week said Trump should face impeachment if he seeks to pardon Michael Cohen as a way to prevent him from providing information to investigators.

Gillibrand, who is running for re-election this year, continued to insist she was not considering a run for the presidency herself.

“Sometimes, but as you know, I’m 100 percent committed to running for the Senate,” Gillibrand when asked how often she is asked about running for president.

Pressed on a potential White House campaign, she demurred, “No, I’m very focused on being senator.”

Gillibrand faces Republican Chele Farley this November.

NY Democrats Criticize Trump For Shutdown Threat

Some Democratic federal leaders from New York were not impressed with President Donald Trump’s threat this weekended of a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t fund a Mexican border wall.


Trump tweeted Sunday, he would be willing to shut down the government if Dems don’t vote for “Border Security,” including a wall. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, called it outrageous and said the president should be focusing on reuniting roughly 700 immigrant children with their parents instead.

“I think his plan is a waste of money and I think that he should be focusing on how he’s going to reunite these children with their parents that is a crisis that he created through an inhumane process.”

When pressed about whether Democrats would ever vote for the funding, the senator took a beat before reiterating her opposition to the idea. She did not explicitly say no.

“It’s not the right use of our taxpayer dollars,” she said. “If you want to protect our country from terrorism from human traffickers and drug traffickers, that is now how you’re going to effectively do it.”

Western New York Congressman Brian Higgins, meanwhile, has even harsher words for Trump. He said the president is making idle threats about things he does not even have the authority to do.

He pointed out while the president has the authority to veto the budget if he disagrees with it, Congress can override the veto. Higgins said Trump lacks a fundamental understanding or appreciation for the separation of powers.

“He’s acting like a child, which is insulting to children, because I think by and large young people are brought up with a better sense of right and wrong,” the congressman said. “This is not about left and right. It’s about right and wrong.”

While the administration is celebrating more than four percent growth of the Gross Domestic Product, Higgins said Trump’s words could potentially create uncertainty and instability, which in turn could have a negative affect on further economic growth.

Gillibrand’s GOP Opponent Makes an Issue of ICE

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s little known Republican opponent, Chele Chiavacci Farley, this weekend seized on the Democrat’s decision to join a growing call to abolish ICE, accusing her of engaging in a “publicity stunt…to get her name up in her quest to run for president in 2020.”

“It’s crazy,” Farley said during a Saturday appearance on “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

“It’s not going to happen,” she continued. “Nobody thinks it’s going to happen. It shouldn’t happen and we need criminal deported. Period, full stop.”

Farley went on to praise ICE for its work combating members of the gang MS-013, saying the agency deported 796 of them last year alone.

“If you remember, MS-13 is the gang that hacks kids to death, a 15-year-old here in New York, two girls who were 15 and 16,” Farley said. “It’s appalling. It’s fantastic that 796 of them were sent home, and frankly, they all should be sent him, and that’s ICE’s job.”

Though she has worked hard to avoid linking herself too closely to President Donald Trump, who is not terribly popular with New York voters – other than members of his GOP and Conservative base – on this issue, Farley is in agreement with the president.

During a wide-ranging interview Sunday morning, also on Fox News, Trump went on the attack against Democrats who are calling for ICE to be abolished, predicting that if they continue to do so, they will pay a price at the polls during the midterm elections this fall.

Gillibrand last week became the first sitting member of the Senate to call for ICE to be abolished, saying it has become a “deportation force” and calling for the separation of criminal justice and immigration issues. (It has been noted that she didn’t call for ending deportations altogether).

Gillibrand’s comments came in the wake of the surprise upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in NY-14 over veteran Queens Rep. Joe Crowley. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-professed Democratic Socialist, has called for ICE to be abolished, and is also in favor of universal health care and free higher education.

Though the junior senator is often mentioned as a potential 2020 contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, she has repeatedly insisted she is only interested in remaining in the Senate.

Farley needs all the help she can get to make a dent in Gillibrand’s considerable lead in the polls, not to mention her significant fundraising and name recognition advantage.

Asked during the Fox interview how the race has been going thus far, Farley admitted Gillibrand has “much higher name recognition than I do,” but repeated her accusation, which at this point has become the cornerstone of her campaign, that the senator is more focused on her own political future than she is on representing New Yorkers in D.C.

When it was noted that Farley is running in a state where Ocasio-Cortez’s liberal brand of politics appears to be increasingly popular, Farley replied:

“I think she won because she ran against a career politician. I’m running against a career politician.”

Gillibrand Doubles Down on Abolishing ICE

Last night, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand became the first sitting member of her chamber to call for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, telling CNN’s Chris Cuomo that the agency is not “working as intended.”

Gillibrand, who is New York’s junior senator and is often mentioned as a potential contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said the agency “has become a deportation force,” and should be reimagined as an entity that helps families, separating out criminal justice issues.

Gillibrand’s comments came in response to a question from Cuomo, the brother of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, (who, by the way, has criticized ICE, but thus far refused to go so far as to call for it to be scrapped, even as his primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, has done so), as to whether she agrees with the views on this issue of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 28-year-old political newcomer who stunned national and New York Democrats by defeating veteran Queens Rep. Joe Crowley in this week’s primary.

Ocasio-Cortez’s surprise upset victory has already had a significant impact on New York Democratic elected officials, sending them scurrying into the arms of other insurgent candidates – like the primary challengers of former Senate IDC members – and pronouncing support for all manner of liberal ideologies.

Not surprisingly, Gillibrand’s comments drew criticism from the right. The RNC sent out an email saying the senator’s “shift of positions on immigration is downright comical at this point,” noting that in the past, she sponsored the SAVE Act, which aimed to crack down on illegal immigration with more border guards, accelerated deportations, and mandatory requirements for employers to verify employee immigration status.

As a congresswoman representing a closely divided upstate district, Gillibrand also opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants, calling it “fatally flawed,” declared English should be the official language of the U.S., and went to the mat with then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, a fellow Democrat, over his (eventually scuttled) proposal to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

“Expect more Senate Democrats to trip over themselves in an effort to follow Gillibrand’s swing to the radical left,” said RNC spokeswoman Ellie Hockenbury. “…This isn’t the first time the 2020 Democrat class has hurried to take drastically new positions to get on the side of the socialist wing of the party, and it likely won’t be the last.”

Gillibrand has said on multiple occasions that her positions on immigration – as well as other hot-button social issues, like gun control – evolved after she was tapped by former Gov. David Paterson to inherit the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton when she ran her first unsuccessful campaign for president.

Despite the criticism, however, Gillibrand is doubling down on her ICE position, sending out an email earlier today urging her supporters to sign an online petition joining her in her call for abolishing the agency.

“ICE has become a cruel deportation force,” Gillibrand wrote. “This agency has carried out the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy, including separating children and parents. People are coming to the United States seeking asylum and a better life for their families – and President Trump is slamming the door on them.”

“ICE is meant to provide security and enforcement. But it has morphed into something much more by conducting raids and deporting people who’ve lived in and contributed to this country for many years.”

“It’s wrong. Congress needs to abolish ICE, and we need to start over, separating the criminal justice and immigration roles. Together, we can build a better system that is humane, just and recognizes that immigration adds to America’s strength and security. We can’t let up until we get it.”

“…The mistreatment of immigrant children and families is one of the most urgent crises we face. ICE has lost trust. It stokes fear. It has to go.
Raising our voices and refusing to let up is how we’ll change this country for the better. It’s the only way change has ever come. So please raise your voice now.”

Also, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, during his weekly appearance on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” added his name to the growing list of Democratic elected officials calling for ICE to be abolished, saying: “We should create something better, something different.”

Farley Calls Gillibrand’s Call To Eliminate ICE A ‘Publicity Stunt’

During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, became the first sitting U.S. senator to call for the elimination of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gillibrand was responding to a question from Cuomo regarding the far left-leaning policies of upstart congressional primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who campaigned in part on the platform.

Gillibrand seemed to surprise the host when she said she agreed it was time to get rid of the agency.

“I believe that it has become a deportation force and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues and I think you should reimagine ICE under a new agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out,” Gillibrand said. “We believe that we should protect families that need our help and that is not what ICE is doing today and that’s why I believe you should get rid of it, start over, reimagine it and build something that actually works.”

The senators Republican opponent this fall, Chele Farley, called it a publicity stunt from a politician who wants to run for president. Farley pointed to agency statistics, noting ICE made 4,818 criminal arrests last year including nearly 800 M#-13 gang members.

“ICE was created in the wake of 9/11 to protect our country. The agency is charged with protecting our borders and ensuring we have a fair and lawful immigration process. They are responsible for and have been successful in rounding up MS-13 gang members for deportation, including a major bust in Suffolk County in March 2018,” she said. “It is unconscionable that Kirsten Gillibrand wants to protect MS-13 gang members instead of our citizens and flood our communities with drugs rather than do her job and uphold her constitutional oath to safeguard our country.”

Gillibrand endorsed long-time Congressman Joe Crowley in his primary against Ocasio-Cortez which drew some criticism from the eventual winner. The senator said she supported Crowley for his leadership in the House and because he is a friend but it doesn’t mean she can’t be excited for Ocasio-Perez and what she’s going to do.

Gillibrand Says GOP Paid Family Leave Plan Hurts Social Security

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday panned a Republican-backed proposal for paid family leave, saying the program should not be approved the expense of Social Security.

“Our country desperately needs a paid family medical leave plan, but robbing Peter to pay Paul is shortsighted and wrong,” Gillibrand said.

“No worker should have to borrow against their own Social Security benefits, which are already too low, to get paid family leave when they need it to take care of a new baby, a sick family member, or themselves. We need to pass a paid leave program that is comprehensive, affordable, gender-neutral, and covers all of life’s unexpected medical events. This bill fails that test. Congress should act now to pass the FAMILY Act, which is an earned benefit that would help all American workers take paid time off through shared responsibility of the employer and employee.”

The proposal backed by Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, would allow parents to draw benefits from their Social Security to fund parental leave. They would then be required to delay the collection of retirement benefits over a period of time.

“Congress should be working to strengthen Social Security, but this Senate Republican plan weakens it,” Gillibrand said. “Any plan that robs the Social Security trust fund will hurt low-income workers, seniors, and women the most. Women already receive less Social Security benefits than men, and this plan only exacerbates that problem.”

President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address last week backed a paid family leave program, which has been a key issue for his daughter and advisor, Ivanka. It was not clear which plan Trump, however, was embracing in the speech.

In New York, lawmakers last year approved a paid family leave program that deducts a small amount of money from an employee’s pay in order to fund it.

Gillibrand Discusses SOTU Priorities

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will bring the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico as her guest to the State of the Union address tonight. The Senator from New York held a press conference by satellite Tuesday to talk about that decision and what she hopes to hear from President Donald Trump.

Those issues include how he plans to make healthcare more affordable for Americans and create more good-paying jobs. Gillibrand would also like to hear details on Trump’s infrastructure plan, ways to make higher education more affordable, and if he’s going to provide permanent residence to the young immigrants known as Dreamers.
But the focus of the night for Gillibrand will be on how Puerto Rico is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. She said they were not just natural disasters but humanitarian and economic ones.
Gillbrand she chose to bring the San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz because so many New Yorkers both have family members on the island and have dealt with disasters like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene.
“We know what it’s like to rebuild and I think it’s outrageous that this president has turned a blind eye to the suffering in Puerto Rico because it’s something that a lot of New Yorkers are very concerned about because their families live there and their loved ones,” she said
Gillibrand said the first steps are to approve a new Marshall Plan for Puerto Rich and grant the governor’s full request for funding.

Gillibrand: Firing Mueller Risks A Constitutional Crisis

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday told reporters that firing White House special counsel Robert Mueller would risk a “constitutional crisis” and his investigation into Russian collusion should proceed without White House intervention.

Gillibrand, at an unrelated event in Syracuse, was responding the news that Trump last year had sought to fire Mueller, but relented after the president’s top counsel threatened to quit.

“I believe that is a line he should not cross,” she said. “I think it risks a constitutional crisis. It should not have interference from the White House.”

Meanwhile, Gillibrand also said congressional Democrats should push back strongly in favor of legal protections for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, known as dreamers.

Another funding showdown is approaching next month after a brief federal government shutdown in part over the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals was resolved this week.

“From the outside it certainly looks like Washington’s broken and cannot come together to meet the needs of people,” she said. “If we cannot protect the DACA kids, I hope we fight as hard as we possibly can. These are hundreds of thousands of people here who are doing good things for our country.”

She added the Trump-backed proposal for DACA of what she has seen “looks inadequate to me.”

Gillibrand Compliments Oprah’s Golden Globe Speech

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand knows all about being the subject of 2020 speculation. She’s considered among the Democratic front-runners to take on Donald Trump, but this weekend serious speculation about another candidate emerged.

Following Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes, several reports said she’s considering a campaign. Monday in Buffalo, Gillibrand sounded supportive of the idea.

“I’m really grateful to what she said and I think she’s a real leader and I think her voice is powerful and important and whatever she wants to do, she should do,” she said.

Winfrey’s speech focused on issues with sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and other American arenas. It’s a topic Gillibrand has regularly spoken out about during her ascension among the Democratic considerations.

“I love the fact that she ended it with this statement that we want to make sure that little girls out there listening to her never have to have a Me Too moment,” Gillibrand said. “They never have to be on Youtube because things will have changed by then.”

Gillibrand said she appreciated that Winfrey’s speech didn’t make the issue about one person or on industry but instead called for women and men to continue to speak out.