Kirsten Gillibrand Goes After Donald Trump During Town Hall: 'He Has Spread Fear and Hate and Degradation Across This Country'

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand launched a scathing attack against President Donald Trump, saying what he did to the country was one of the reasons she decided to run for president.

The New York senator, who is one of a number of Democratic 2020 hopefuls, blamed Trump for helping to spread hatred and bigotry in the U.S., saying it was "raging more than I've ever seen it in my lifetime," in an MSNBC town hall with host Chris Hayes.

During the talk, a Muslim woman in the audience whose mother was born in a refugee camp in Syria described how Trump was not defending them in the wake of the New Zealand mosque attacks and continued to spread Islamophobia because of his travel ban targeting those from Muslim-majority countries.

The woman asked what the candidate would do about white nationalism and whether she would revoke the Muslim ban, adding the recent mass shooting at the mosques in New Zealand meant even her place of solitude and sanctuary had now been compromised.

"I will stand up against white nationalism, and I will repeal the Muslim ban as soon as I'm president of the United States," Gillibrand replied, prompting applause from the audience.

"One of the reasons why I'm running for president is because of what Donald Trump has done to this country. He's made her family afraid to worship" Gillibrand said, referring to the women who posed the question. "He has spread fear and hate and degradation across this country. He has spewed hate, racism, anti-Semitism and has inspired more.

"Donald Trump did not create hate and racism and bigotry and anti-Semitism, but what he has done is pour fuel on a fire that is raging more than I've ever seen it in my lifetime. Hate crimes have gone up exponentially all across my state, all cross the country, all because of what President Trump has unleashed.

"Each one of us has a choice today to say, do we defend this democracy? Will we as Americans fight for what we believe in? Will we as Americans reject the hate that her family has to go through every day? Will we say this is not who we are as Americans?"

During the town hall, Gillibrand defended criticism over her quick demand for former Senator Al Franken to resign after he faced a string of sexual harassment allegations in 2017, many of which occurred before his Senate years, when he worked as a professional comedian.

"The truth is we miss him and people loved him, but he had eight credible allegations against him of sexual harassment for groping, two of them since he was a senator and the eighth one was a congressional staffer," she said, reported Fox News. "I had a choice to make whether to stay silent or not, whether to say, 'That's not OK with me,' and I decided to say that."

She also described how the claims surrounding Franken forced her to have a conversation with her son, Theo.

"As a mother, I have to be very clear. It is not OK for anyone to grope a woman anywhere on her body without her consent. It is not OK to forcibly kiss a woman, ever, without her consent. It was not OK for Senator Franken, and it is not OK for you, Theo. Ever.

"So I needed to have clarity. And if there are few Democratic powerful donors who are angry because I stood up for women who came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, that's on them."

Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to guests during a campaign stop at the Chrome Horse Saloon on February 18 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The 2020 candidate accused Donald Trump of spreading "fear and hate and degradation across this country." Scott Olson/Getty Images
Kirsten Gillibrand Goes After Donald Trump During Town Hall: 'He Has Spread Fear and Hate and Degradation Across This Country' | U.S.