Politics

In speech at Trump hotel, Gillibrand calls Trump a coward

Democratic presidential candidate Kristen Gillibrand holds a speech during the official kick-off rally of her campaign for US president on March 24, 2019 in New York. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
Johannes EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate Kristen Gillibrand spoke in New York on Sunday.

NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand on Sunday called President Donald Trump a ‘‘coward’’ who ‘‘punches down’’ and says that he is ‘‘tearing apart the moral fabric of our country.’’

Gillibrand also urged the full release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in the Russia investigation, stressing that ‘‘nobody in this country, not even the president, is above the law, or immune from accountability.’’ Attorney General William Barr was expected to release a summary of principal conclusions as soon as Sunday, but Democrats want to see the full details.

In what her campaign billed as Gillibrand’s first major speech as a presidential candidate, the New York senator said the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan is ‘‘a shrine to greed, division and vanity.’’

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Gillibrand is trying to position herself in the crowded field of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination. While some hopefuls have shied away from mentioning Trump, Gillibrand has not hesitated to do so.

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‘‘He demonizes the vulnerable and he punches down. He puts his name in bold on every building,’’ Gillibrand said. ‘‘He does all of this because he wants you to believe he is strong. He is not. Our president is a coward.’’

Gillibrand’s speech comes as the nation awaits the key findings of Mueller’s report, which has loomed over Trump’s presidency.

She said Sunday, ‘‘It is not often that I agree with Richard Nixon, but he was right to say that the American people have the right to know whether their president is a crook.’’

The speech in front of the Trump International Hotel & Tower appears to be a re-launch of Gillibrand’s campaign. She announced last January that she was exploring a run, then spent months traveling the country campaigning and raising money.

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Gillibrand praised the bravery of high school students organizing to end gun violence, young people brought to the country illegally as children who are fighting for ‘‘their right to call this country home,’’ and ‘‘of course, the formerly well-behaved women who organized, ran for office, voted and won in 2018.’’

‘‘That is brave,’’ she said.

Gillibrand also talked about her own courage, which she said is evidenced by her ability to win a House seat in a district seen as a Republican stronghold, by fighting for funds to cover the cost of medical care for rescue workers and survivors of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, and by fighting on behalf of survivors of sexual assault and harassment at the Pentagon, in Congress and on college campuses.