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Sen. Gillibrand: 'I don't know how [Sessions] can be attorney general

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is interviewed about military sexual assaults. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has "very grave concerns" over Donald Trump's selection of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to be attorney general — and it has to do with his understanding of sexual assault.

Gillibrand has used her position as a New York senator to work as a staunch advocate of victims of sexual assault — both on college campuses and in the military. On Monday, she expressed her apprehension over both the election of Trump and his selection of Sessions especially because of the leaked audio recording from 2005 in which the president-elect spoke crudely about women.

In the wake of audio's publication, in which Trump bragged about "grabbing" women by the "pussy," Sessions defended  Trump and simply chalked it up to "very improper language." The Alabama senator declined to define the action detailed by Trump as sexual assault in an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard at the time.

Sessions later partially walked back his comments and contended that he would "never intentionally suggest" that assault is acceptable.

"I have very grave concerns about Sen. Sessions as head of the Department of Justice, and I, of course, will pay attention to his hearings, and I, of course, will give him the opportunity to speak out about what kind of head of the department he's going to be," Gillibrand told WNYC-AM.

She added:

But I have to say — those comments are so offensive and so dangerous, and if he doesn't understand the basics of what sexual assault is, I don't know how he can be attorney general. That's one of the attorney general's jobs. [...]

He has a real role, and if he doesn't understand the basic tenets of what sexual assault is, I don't think he has the background and knowledge he will need to be attorney general.

The tapes, too, should have disqualified Trump from the presidency, Gillibrand contended.

"Certainly, I thought it was disqualifying," Gillibrand said. "Somebody who is bragging about sexually assaulting women should really never be elected to be president of the United States."

"I don't know why more people did not find it disqualifying," she added. "But I know it created a national conversation that I'm going to continue, and we're going to talk about why it's not OK to brag about sexually assaulting women and why it's not locker-room talk. It is criminal, criminal behavior."

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