Yes, Hillary Clinton must answer for Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults

Dylan Matthews at Vox has written an ‘explainer’ in which he accepts that Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick but doubts that Hillary Clinton meant to intimidate her into silence.[1] The article is prompted by Donald Trump’s appearance with “three [emphasis added] women who allege the former president sexually assaulted them” preceding his debate with Hillary Clinton.[2]

I’ll stop short of calling Matthews wrong, but I think his explanation is, at best, inadequate. First, Bill Clinton stands accused by at least three women who appeared with Trump. Lena Dunham, a Hillary Clinton supporter, has reportedly said “that she was disturbed by how, in the 1990s, the Clintons and their allies discredited women who said they had had sexual encounters with or been sexually assaulted by former President Bill Clinton.”[3] She should be disturbed.

“We have to destroy her story,” Mrs. Clinton said of one of the first women to come forward during her husband’s first presidential campaign, Connie Hamzy, in 1991, according to George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton administration aide who described the events in his memoir, “All Too Human.’’ (Three people signed sworn affidavits saying Ms. Hamzy’s story was false.)

When Gennifer Flowers later surfaced, claiming that she had a long affair with Mr. Clinton, Mrs. Clinton undertook an “aggressive, explicit direction of the campaign to discredit” Ms. Flowers, according to an exhaustive biography of Mrs. Clinton, “A Woman in Charge,” by Carl Bernstein.

Mrs. Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with the 42nd president, as a “narcissistic loony toon,” according to one of her closest confidantes, Diane D. Blair, whose diaries were released to the University of Arkansas after her death in 2000. Ms. Lewinsky later called the comment an example of Mrs. Clinton’s impulse to “blame the woman.”[4]

Liza Featherstone, writing for Truthout put it this way:

Hillary Clinton’s mudslinging and slut-shaming campaigns against women who claimed to have had consensual sex with her husband are well documented. In his memoir, George Stephanopoulos, quotes Hillary Clinton as saying of one such woman [Connie Hamzy], “We have to destroy her story.” Hillary biographer Carl Bernstein describes Hillary directing an “aggressive, explicit” campaign to discredit Gennifer Flowers, an actress who said she had a long affair with Bill Clinton. She referred to Flowers as “trailer trash.” In a tough 2008 essay for Slate, Melinda Henneberger and Dahlia Lithwick wrote that Clinton “consistently relates to and protects and stands with the oppressors in the gender wars … she invariably sees [Bill] as the victim, preyed upon by a series of female aggressors.”[5]

Maureen Dowd adds,

The interesting thing about the spectacle of older women trying to shame younger ones on behalf of Hillary is that Hillary and Bill killed the integrity of institutional feminism back in the ’90s — with the help of [Madeleine] Albright and [Gloria] Steinem.

Instead of just admitting that he had had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and taking his lumps, Bill lied and hid behind the skirts of his wife and female cabinet members, who had to go out before the cameras and vouch for his veracity, even when it was apparent he was lying.

Seeing Albright, the first female secretary of state, give cover to President Clinton was a low point in women’s rights. As was the New York Times op-ed by Steinem, arguing that Lewinsky’s will was not violated, so no feminist principles were violated. What about Clinton humiliating his wife and daughter and female cabinet members? What about a president taking advantage of a gargantuan power imbalance with a 22-year-old intern? What about imperiling his party with reckless behavior that put their feminist agenda at risk?[6]

We simply aren’t looking at anything like a one-time incident. This is a pattern and I think Matthews errs in considering Broaddrick’s case while failing to consider similar behavior in other cases. Hillary Clinton’s friends portray her as a loyal wife, blind to Bill Clinton’s serial sexual predation.[7] If this is true, then she clearly has incredibly poor judgment about her husband and we are entitled to worry about her judgment on other matters.

If, on the other hand, it is not true that Hillary Clinton is simply playing the innocent and loyal wife, then these incidents are consistent with her work as a lawyer defending an accused rapist, in which she attacked the victim[8]:

In a July 28, 1975, court affidavit, Clinton wrote that she had been informed the young girl was “emotionally unstable” and had a “tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing.”

“I have also been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences and that adolescents in disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to exaggerate behavior,” Clinton said.

Clinton said the child had “in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body” and that the girl “exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.”[9]

In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast, [the victim] accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings.

“Hillary Clinton took me through Hell,” the victim said. The Daily Beast agreed to withhold her name out of concern for her privacy as a victim of sexual assault.

The victim said if she saw Clinton today, she would call her out for what she sees as the hypocrisy of Clinton’s current campaign to fight for women’s rights compared to her actions regarding this rape case so long ago.

“I would say [to Clinton], ‘You took a case of mine in ’75, you lied on me… I realize the truth now, the heart of what you’ve done to me. And you are supposed to be for women? You call that [being] for women, what you done to me? And I hear you on tape laughing.”[10]

Let’s be clear: What this victim has to say about Hillary Clinton is classic for rape victims in our criminal injustice system, in which victims are seemingly on trial, perhaps even more so than their assailants, especially when their assailant is Bill Clinton.

  1. [1]Dylan Matthews, “Juanita Broaddrick’s case against Hillary Clinton, explained,” Vox, October 9, 2016,
  2. [2]British Broadcasting Corporation, “US election: Trump says obscene remarks were ‘locker room talk,'” October 10, 2016,
  3. [3]Amy Chozick, “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women,” New York Times, January 20, 2016,
  4. [4]Amy Chozick, “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women,” New York Times, January 20, 2016,
  5. [5]Liza Featherstone, “Hillary Clinton’s Faux Feminism,” Truthout, February 28, 2016,
  6. [6]Maureen Dowd, “When Hillary Clinton Killed Feminism,” New York Times, February 13, 2016,
  7. [7]Shawn Boburg, “Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers,” Washington Post, September 28, 2016,
  8. [8]I have previously dealt with this matter in David Benfell, “Clinton owes rape victims a deeply-felt apology,” Not Housebroken, June 24, 2014,
  9. [9]Alana Goodman, “The Hillary Tapes,” Washington Free Beacon, June 15, 2014,
  10. [10]Josh Rogin, “Exclusive: ‘Hillary Clinton Took Me Through Hell,’ Rape Victim Says,” Daily Beast, June 20, 2014,

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