Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Benghazi, Conflicts of Interest in Foggy Bottom, The Clintons’ Private Email Server, Sidney Blumenthal, The Speeches, Whitewater, Troopergate,Paula Corbin Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Impeachment, Vince Foster’s suicide, Juanita Broaddrick and The Clinton Foundation
Current Clinton E-Mail Scandal
What? Setting aside the question of the Clintons’ private email server, what’s actually in the emails that Clinton did turn over to State? While some of the emails related to Benghazi have been released, there are plenty of others covered by public-records laws that haven’t.
A May report from the State Department inspector general is harshly critical of Clinton’s email approach.
What? On September 11, 2012, attackers overran a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Since then, Republicans have charged that Hillary Clinton failed to adequately protect U.S. installations or that she attempted to spin the attacks as spontaneous when she knew they were planned terrorist operations. She testifies for the first time on October 22.
When? September 11, 2012-present
How serious is it? Benghazi has gradually turned into a classic “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup” scenario. However, it was through the Benghazi investigations that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server became public—a controversy that remains potent.
What? Before becoming Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills worked for Clinton on an unpaid basis for four month while also working for New York University, in which capacity she negotiated on the school’s behalf with the government of Abu Dhabi, where it was building a campus. In June 2012, Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin’s status at State changed to “special government employee,”
When? January 2009-February 2013
What? During the course of the Benghazi investigation, New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt learned Clinton had used a personal email account while secretary of state. It turned out she had also been using a private server, located at a house in New York. The result was that Clinton and her staff decided which emails to turn over to the State Department as public records and which to withhold; they say they then destroyed the ones they had designated as personal.
When? 2009-2013, during Clinton’s term as secretary.
Who? Hillary Clinton; Bill Clinton; top aides including Huma Abedin
How serious is it? The biggest question right now appears to be whether the server was hacked, which could have exposed classified or otherwise sensitive information. Even if not, there’s the question of whether using the serve was appropriate. The rules governing use of personal emails are murky, and Clinton aides insist she followed the rules. There’s no dispositive evidence otherwise so far. Politically, there are questions about how she selected the emails she turned over and what was in the ones she deleted. The FBI has reportedly managed to recover some of the deleted correspondence.
Blumenthal takes a lunch break while being deposed in private session of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters / Zak Bickel / The Atlantic)
What? A former journalist, Blumenthal was a top aide in the second term of the Bill Clinton administration and helped on messaging during the bad old days. He served as an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and when she took over the State Department, she sought to hire Blumenthal. Obama aides, apparently still smarting over his role in attacks on candidate Obama, refused the request, so Clinton just sought out his counsel informally. At the same time, Blumenthal was drawing a check from the Clinton Foundation.
How serious is it? Some of the damage is already done. Blumenthal was apparently the source of the idea that the Benghazi attacks were spontaneous, a notion that proved incorrect and provided a political bludgeon against Clinton and Obama. He also advised the secretary on a wide range of other issues, from Northern Ireland to China, and passed along analysis from his son Max, a staunch critic of the Israeli government (and conservative bête noire). But emails released so far show even Clinton’s top foreign-policy guru, Jake Sullivan, rejecting Blumenthal’s analysis, raising questions about her judgment in trusting him.
What? Since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001, both Clintons have made millions of dollars for giving speeches.
Who? Hillary Clinton; Bill Clinton; Chelsea Clinton
How serious is it? Intermittently dangerous. It has a tendency to flare up, then die down. Senator Bernie Sanders made it a useful attack against her in early 2016, suggesting that by speaking to banks like Goldman Sachs, she was compromised. There have been calls for Clinton to release the transcripts of her speeches, which she was declined to do, saying if every other candidate does, she will too. For the Clintons, who left the White House up to their ears in legal debt, lucrative speeches—mostly by the former president—proved to be an effective way of rebuilding wealth. They have also been an effective magnet for prying questions. Where did Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton speak? How did they decide how much to charge? What did they say? How did they decide which speeches would be given on behalf of the Clinton Foundation, with fees going to the charity, and which would be treated as personal income? Are there cases of conflicts of interest or quid pro quos—for example, speaking gigs for Bill Clinton on behalf of clients who had business before the State Department?
What is it? Since the Clintons have a long history of controversies, there are any number of past scandals:
The Whitewater controversy (also known as the Whitewater scandal, or simply Whitewater) began with an investigation into the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim and Susan McDougal, in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s.
A March 1992, New York Times article published during the U.S. presidential campaign reported that the Clintons, then governor and first lady of Arkansas, had invested and lost money in the Whitewater Development Corporation. The article stimulated the interest of L. Jean Lewis, a Resolution Trust Corporation investigator who was looking into the failure of Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan, owned by Jim and Susan McDougal. Lewis looked for connections between the savings and loan company and the Clintons, and on September 2, 1992, she submitted a criminal referral to the FBI naming Bill and Hillary Clinton as witnesses in the Madison Guaranty case. Little Rock U.S. Attorney Charles A. Banks and the FBI determined that the referral lacked merit, but Lewis continued to pursue the case. From 1992 to 1994, Lewis issued several additional referrals against the Clintons, and repeatedly called the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock and the Justice Department regarding the case. Her referrals eventually became public knowledge, and she testified before the Senate Whitewater Committee in 1995.
Troopergate is the popular name for an alleged scandal in which two Arkansas State Troopers claimed they had arranged sexual liaisons for then-Governor Bill Clinton. The allegations by state troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry were first reported byDavid Brock in the conservative magazine American Spectator in 1993.
The story mentioned a woman named Paula, a reference to Paula Jones, who later sued Clinton for sexual harassment in Jones v. Clinton.
Paula Corbin Jones (born Paula Rosalee Corbin; September 17, 1966) is a former Arkansas state employee who sued U.S. President Bill Clinton for sexual harassment. The Paula Jones case precipitated Clinton's impeachment and acquittal by the Senate on February 12, 1999. Charges of perjury and obstruction of justice were brought against Clinton. Eventually, the court dismissed the Paula Jones harassment lawsuit, before trial, on the grounds that Jones failed to demonstrate any damages. However, while the dismissal was on appeal, Clinton entered into an out-of-court settlement by agreeing to pay Jones $850,000.
Monica Lewinsky How can anyone not remember the infamous blue dress.
The Lewinsky scandal was an American political sex scandal in 1998, referring to a sexual relationship between 52-year-old President Bill Clinton and a 25-year-old White House employee, Monica Lewinsky. During a televised speech, Clinton ended with the statement that he did not have sexual relations with Lewinsky. Further investigation led to charges of perjury and led to the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives and his subsequent acquittal on all impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a 21-day Senate trial.
President Clinton was held in civil contempt of court by Judge Susan Webber Wright.His license to practice law was suspended in Arkansas for five years and later by the United States Supreme Court. He was also fined $90,000 for giving false testimony in the separate Paula Jones case.
In 1995, Lewinsky, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, was hired to work as an internat the White House during Clinton's first term, and was later an employee of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. While working at the White House she began a personal relationship with Clinton, the details of which she later confided to her friend and Defense Department co-worker Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded their telephone conversations.
When Tripp discovered in January 1998 that Lewinsky had sworn an affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying a relationship with Clinton, she delivered the tapes to Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel who was investigating Clinton on other matters, including the Whitewater scandal, the White House FBI files controversy, and the White House travel office controversy. During the grand jury testimony Clinton's responses were carefully worded, and he argued, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is," in regards to the truthfulness of his statement that "there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship or any other kind of improper relationship."
The wide reporting of the scandal led to criticism of the press for over-coverage. The scandal is sometimes referred to as "Monicagate,"Lewinskygate," "Tailgate," "Sexgate," and "Zippergate," following the "-gate" nickname construction that has been popular since the Watergate scandal.
Vince Foster’s suicide. Hillary Clinton relentlessly browbeat her clinically depressed former law partner Vince Foster shortly before he committed suicide in 1993, according to notes from a final jailhouse interview with a former close business partner of the Clintons.
Jim McDougal, a long-time member of the Clintons’ Arkansas inner circle and a central figure in the Whitewater scandal, passed away from a heart attack in prison in 1998. But he said in a final interview before his death that Hillary Clinton had a “hard, difficult personality” and was “riding [Vince Foster] every minute” about Whitewater before Foster took his own life.
McDougal also described his ex-friend Bill as a “master con artist” who married Hillary after a “cold-blooded search” to find himself a politically beneficial wife. Bill, according to McDougal, also privately wanted to prevent Hillary from succeeding in her own political career. McDougal, who was convicted of fraud in 1996 in connection to the controversial real estate partnership with the Clintons, sat for a number of jailhouse interviews with former Boston Globe reporter Curtis Wilkie before his death. Many of his statements were reported in his posthumous 1998 book with Wilkie, Arkansas Mischief: The Birth of a National Scandal.
Who? Bill Clinton; Hillary Clinton; a brigade of supporting characters
How serious is it? The conventional wisdom is that they’re not terribly dangerous. Some are wholly spurious (Foster). Others (Lewinsky, Whitewater) have been so exhaustively investigated it’s hard to imagine them doing much further damage to Hillary Clinton’s standing. In fact, the Lewinsky scandal famously boosted her public approval ratings. But the January 2016 resurfacing of Juanita Broaddrick’s rape allegations offers a test case to see whether the conventional wisdom is truly wise—or just conventional. On May 23, Donald Trump released a video prominently highlighting Broaddrick’s accusation.
Juanita Broaddrick is a former nursing home administrator from Arkansas. She alleged in 1999 that United States President Bill Clinton had raped her two decades earlier in April, 1978. President Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, denied the allegations on his client's behalf. Clinton refused to comment further on the issue. Rumors circulated about Broaddrick's allegations for many years, but she refused to speak to the media and, as "Jane Doe #5," filed an affidavit with Paula Jones' lawyers stating that the rumors were unfounded. (See Road to public disclosure.) In an interview with Dateline NBC, that aired on February 24, 1999, Broaddrick claimed she had indeed been raped by Clinton.