Former Gillibrand Staffer Resigned Over Handling of Sexual Harassment Complaint

March 11, 2019 Updated: March 11, 2019

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who is one of the most prominent voices of the #MeToo movement, ignored sexual harassment complaints from a young female staffer last year, prompting the aide to resign in protest, according to a digital copy of her resignation later sent to the senator’s personal email.

Gillibrand was spearheading efforts to change how Congress handles allegations of sexual harassment last year as the female aide—who wanted to remain anonymous due to fear of retaliation and damage to her future career—accused the senator of going against her own “public belief that women shouldn’t accept sexual harassment in any form.”

“I have offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled,” the former aide wrote.

The staffer said in her letter that she had filed a complaint to Deputy Chief of Staff Anne Bradley on July 25, 2018, detailing her sexual harassment at the hands of Abbas Malik, the special assistant to Gillibrand.

Gillibrand’s office conducted an investigation into her claims on the day and resolved it on July 30. The staffer said she was told both the office and Gillibrand didn’t find cause to fire Malik and claimed it was a “series of misinterpretations” and too much of a “he said, she said” situation. Malik was still punished as a result of making inappropriate remarks and was demoted.

But the former aide said the following events “directly led” to her decision to resign.

On July 31, 2018, Bradley entered the former aide’s office and said that “Jess [Fassler] told Abbas that he could have fired him for a number of reasons but isn’t going to, so he should consider himself lucky.” Fassler is the chief of staff.

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. But in that discussion, Fassler told her, “You could also be fired at any minute, for any reason.”

In a later discussion on her resignation with Fassler in August 2018, Fassler told her, “I could have fired you too. You fed Abbas alcohol while he was on duty.” The former aide said the comments were “grossly inaccurate” and said she felt intimidated, even when she was in the process of quitting.

“I trusted and leaned on this statement that you made: ‘You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK. None of it is acceptable,” the aide wrote to Gillibrand.

Gillibrand’s office didn’t respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment, but she issued a statement to Politico defending how her office handled the incident:

“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. “That’s exactly what happened at every step of this case last year. I told her that we loved her at the time and the same is true today.”

Malik kept his job until Politico sent new allegations of misconduct to the senator’s office two weeks ago. Gillibrand’s office then opened a new investigation and dismissed Malik last week.

Gillibrand, who in January announced she is running for president in 2020, has emphasized her support for far-left policies such as “Medicare for All” and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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