On September 2, the Washington Post (WaPo) had an interesting article, ‘How Hillary Clinton helped create what she later called the “vast right-wing conspiracy”‘.
Anyone who is under 40 should read the article in full, especially for the details of Bill and Hillary’s scandals during the 1990s. Although not all are given detailed treatment, Vince Foster’s death in particular, the list is mind-boggling and demonstrates why Hillary is so distrusted today. Opponents call her ‘Crooked Hillary’ for a reason.
In the 1990s, she accused right-of-centre investigative journalists of creating a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’. However, her own behaviour goes some way to keeping it alive (emphases mine):
“Hillary Clinton is a woman of many strengths and virtues, but like all of us, she also has some blind spots,” [former senior Clinton advisor David] Gergen said in a recent interview. “She does not see the world in the same way that others do, when it comes to transparency and accountability.”
George Stephanopoulos was also an advisor to Bill Clinton, along with Gergen. When the Whitewater property scandal broke in the early 1990s, he remembered their White House discussions with the Clintons:
Gergen and I didn’t know what was in the Whitewater documents, but whatever it was, Hillary didn’t want it out — and she had a veto.
Incredibly, a formal investigation of Whitewater led to Bill’s connection with a certain blue dress:
Pressure built for the appointment of a prosecutor, first Robert B. Fiske Jr., and then Kenneth W. Starr, who had been solicitor general under former president George Bush.
Starr’s far-ranging investigation ultimately uncovered Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which led to his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Moving to Hillary:
Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, would have the dark distinction of becoming the only first lady in history ever called before a federal grand jury. In 1996, she testified for four hours, mostly to answer questions about subpoenaed Whitewater-related documents that had vanished and then suddenly reappeared in the White House living quarters.
Her handling of Whitewater then reflects on her reputation now:
Gergen, Stephanopoulos and other top Clinton aides from that era — some of whom ended up with huge legal bills of their own — contend that none of this might have happened, had Hillary Clinton been more open in the first place.
“I believe that decision against disclosure was the decisive turning point. If they had turned over the Whitewater documents to The Washington Post in December 1993, their seven-year-old land deal would have soon disappeared as an issue and the story of the next seven years would have been entirely different,” Gergen wrote in his book about his time working for four presidents, from Nixon to Clinton.
As he has watched the controversies that have beset her current presidential campaign, particularly the one over her private emails, Gergen has been struck by parallels to that pivotal moment in 1993.
“She has built a protective shield around herself,” Gergen said. “Her first response is, when people come after me, I’m going to have my guard up and be suspicious of what their motives are.”
Although the WaPo reporter is empathetic to Hillary, which is astounding, considering the content of her article, she acknowledges:
The Clintons’ aversion to transparency, as well as their tendency to skirt the rules and play close to the legal and ethical line, have made it easier for their enemies.
Their defensiveness seems to have deepened, which worries some longtime friends and advisers.
“I think she’s much more of that bent than he is. He sees the sunnier side, rather than the darker side,” said one former top aide who has known both Clintons for decades, and who agreed to talk about them if he would not be identified. “It’s grown worse over the years, and it’s now built up into, ‘They are out to get us.’ They’re not wrong, but did part of this come from their secretiveness, and unwillingness to make a clean breast of things?”
Those of us alive when Bill was in the White House remember the scandals. Those who were in school or university at the time might not have been able to keep abreast of them. I would politely request that those people not take issue with those of us who find the couple deeply dishonest.
Even WaPo admits:
Polls consistently show strong majorities of voters do not consider her honest or trustworthy.
That is because the perceptions have had a long time to settle. There are many through-lines from the controversies of the 1990s to the ones dogging the Clintons today.
It was also during the Billary administration — which is what many called it in the 1990s — when ordinary Americans began to openly use the phrase, ‘It’s not a crime if you don’t get caught’. I wonder where they got that from?
The situation in 2016
Hillary is still as white as snow. No action is being taken against her for Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation or the tens of thousands of emails.
WaPo didn’t discuss Benghazi.
On the emails, Hillary posited that she had the private server for convenience, however:
It later became clear that she did it in part because she wanted to have the power to keep her records outside the realm of public discovery — just as she had hoped to do with the Whitewater documents.
when the agency’s deputy chief of staff for operations suggested in 2010 that she set up a government account, the secretary responded: “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
Big donors to the Clinton Foundation saw Washington, DC doors open:
On Aug. 27, the conservative group Citizens United released emails obtained as part of a public records lawsuit. They showed that Clinton Foundation official Doug Band had pressed Clinton aide Huma Abedin to invite three donors, who had given millions to the foundation, to a 2011 State Department lunch with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Emails made public earlier showed, among other things, a sports executive using his foundation connections to press for a visa for a soccer player, and the crown prince of Bahrain going the same route to ask for a last-minute meeting with the secretary of state after “normal channels” failed …
Six-figure contributors to the Democratic National Committee were offered sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom and invited to coffees in the White House Map Room where regulators with oversight of their industries were present.
Sometimes, the fundraising touched the tripwire between the unseemly and the illegal …
Imagine if Donald Trump had done that.
For his part, Trump is interested in Vincent Foster’s untimely and unexpected death:
Earlier this year, Trump dredged up old speculation that the Clintons may have had a hand in the 1993 death of their close friend, White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster.
“He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide,” Trump said. “I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder.”
There were five official probes into Foster’s death. None found evidence that it was anything but suicide.
Would we have expected anything else?
Incidentally, Foster’s demise was written about extensively in the UK at the time. I read about it on a daily basis in the newspapers for several weeks. All my colleagues, normally apolitical, were talking about it.
By the time the Clintons were close to leaving the White House:
seven separate independent counsel investigations of Clinton administration officials were conducted during his years in office. They had cost taxpayers nearly $80 million by the spring of 1999.
And people wonder why Americans distrust Hillary.
It’s not because we’re ‘stupid’. It’s because we know our history and witnessed it as it unfolded.