Person

Bill Clinton

Official White House photo of President Bill Clinton, President of the United States. (link)

Bill Clinton is a Democratic politician who served as President of the United States from January 20, 1993 until January 20, 2001. He is the husband of former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the father of Chelsea Clinton.

In December 1998 he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on two charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, both relating to false testimony in a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against him by former Arkansas state employee Paula Corbin Jones. The federal judge overseeing Jones’ case later held Clinton in contempt of court for “giving false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.” In citing Clinton for contempt, the judge stated she believed this was the first instance of a sitting President being held in contempt by a federal court. [1] Clinton’s extraordinary misbehavior also led the Arkansas state bar to begin proceedings to disbar him, citing his “dishonesty, deceit, fraud and misrepresentation” in responding to the sexual misconduct action. On the day before his final day in office in January 2001, Clinton reached a deal with an independent prosecutor whereby he surrendered his law license for five years in exchange for avoiding prosecution for perjury and obstruction of justice. In January 1999, the United States Senate did not obtain the 67-vote supermajority needed to convict and remove the President for either of the impeachment charges. [2] [3]

Clinton espoused sympathy for conventional left-of-center Democratic Party ideology while in office, but has been praised from right-of-center critics—and correspondingly criticized by nominal allies on the left-of-center—for the policies he enacted. In 2019 Walter Shapiro, a fellow with the left-leaning Brennan Center, criticized the Clinton agenda as one of moving to the right and stealing Republican issues: “Clinton centered his domestic agenda as president on traditional GOP issues like crime, welfare and budget deficits.” [4] In 2001, left wing journalist Robert Kuttner wrote that on “most aspects of domestic policy, Bill Clinton has been to the right of Richard Nixon,” and that after him “American progressivism is weaker: more centrist, less imaginative, less inspiring to voters.” [5] And in a 1999 commentary for the right-of-center National Review, Norman Podhoretz complimented Clinton for moving the Democrats “in a healthier direction” by “betraying the people and the ideas he was supposed to represent,” and inflicting “political insults” on “some of his core constituencies.” [6] [7] Assessing Clinton’s legacy on free trade policy in September 2007— more than halfway through the second term of Republican President George W. Bush—former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan joked to an interviewer that Clinton had been “the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.” [8]

Numerous controversies regarding the personal, political, and business conduct of Bill and Hillary Clinton have emerged since his 1992 Presidential campaign. An independent federal investigation into wrongdoing at several Arkansas businesses tied to the Clintons—colloquially identified as the “Whitewater” probe—led to convictions of former Clinton business associates and the jailing of a woman whom prosecutors thought was a key witness, former Clinton business associate Susan McDougal, on contempt of court charges because of her refusal to testify to a grand jury. [9] During the 1992 campaign Clinton refused to release the couple’s tax returns for the late 1970s. [10] During Clinton’s first term, media revealed the late 1970s tax returns covered a period when Ms. Clinton reported extraordinary investing success in the futures markets, turning $1,000 into almost $100,000 in less than a year, an accomplishment financial experts estimated at 250 million to 1 odds for a newcomer—or slightly more likely than winning the multi-state Powerball grand prize. [11] [12] [13]

The Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit against Clinton surfaced an older allegation that he had raped Arkansas businesswoman Juanita Broaddrick in 1978; five witnesses stated Broaddrick told them the story immediately after the alleged assault, the White House refused to provide Clinton’s calendar for the morning in question, and the President refused to personally address the allegation when challenged by media, though Clinton’s lawyer issued a statement that the claims were “absolutely false.” [14][15][16][17]

On his final day in office, Clinton issued several controversial pardons and commutations, one of them for Marc Rich, a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List wanted for tax evasion whose ex-wife (who refused to testify in a subsequent investigation of the controversy) was a major donor to political and personal causes tied directly to the Clintons. [18] [19]

Background

William Jefferson Clinton was elected 42nd President of the United States when he defeated incumbent President George H.W. Bush on November 4, 1992. Clinton won 43 percent of the popular vote to Bush’s 38 percent, with independent Ross Perot polling 19 percent—the largest popular vote for a third-place candidate since 1912. [20] Clinton was reelected in 1996 and finished two full terms as President on January 20, 2001. Prior to his elevation to the White House, Clinton had been the governor of Arkansas, and before that the state’s attorney general.

He is married to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former U.S. Senator from New York, a former U.S. Secretary of State, and a twice-failed candidate for President of the United States. They have one adult child, Chelsea Clinton.

Policies of the Clinton Administration

Clinton espoused sympathies with conventional left-of-center Democratic Party ideology while in office but has been praised from right-of-center critics—and criticized by nominal allies on the left-of-center—for the right-of-center policies he enacted, especially after Republicans won control of both Houses of Congress in 1994.

In his 1996 State of the Union Address, Clinton declared “the era of big government is over.” In an April 2019 essay for The New Republic, Walter Shapiro, a fellow with the left-leaning Brennan Center, used this quote as an example of Clinton’s Presidential rhetoric that “two decades later make liberals cringe.” Shapiro’s essay, “The Lasting Disappointment of the Clinton Presidency,” criticized the Clinton-era agenda as one of moving to the right and stealing the issues deployed by Republicans.  “As a result,” wrote Shapiro, “Clinton centered his domestic agenda as president on traditional GOP issues like crime, welfare and budget deficits.” [21]

In a 2001 analysis of the Clinton administration for The American Prospect, left-wing journalist Robert Kuttner wrote that on “most aspects of domestic policy, Bill Clinton has been to the right of Richard Nixon.” Judging Clinton’s enduring legacy for the left, Kuttner wrote:[22]

After Clinton, American progressivism is weaker: more centrist, less imaginative, less inspiring to voters. As I have observed elsewhere, Clinton became the Typhoid Mary of U.S. politics–a carrier who maintained his own health while infecting others.[23]

In a 1999 cover story for the right-of-center National Review, Norman Podhoretz argued Clinton had serially betrayed his allies on the left, writing “this scoundrel, this perjurer, this disgrace to the presidency” had “pushed and pulled his party into moving in a healthier direction than it had been heading in since its unconditional surrender to the Left nearly thirty years ago.” [24]

“If he had been a man of any principles at all, a man with something inside him besides the lust for power … he would have been incapable of betraying the people and the ideas he was supposed to represent,” wrote Podhoretz. “If he had not been so great a liar, he would have been unable to get away not only with his own private sins but with the political insults he was administering to some of his core constituencies.” [25]

Making a similar point in a 1999 edition of the Weekly Standard, another right-of-center publication, David Frum wrote, “Since 1994, Clinton has offered the Democratic party a devilish bargain: Accept and defend policies you hate (welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act), condone and excuse crimes (perjury, campaign finance abuses), and I’ll deliver you the executive branch of government.” [26]

North American Free Trade Agreement

In 1993, during his first year as President, Clinton strongly promoted ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a major trade agreement that lowered tariffs and other barriers to commerce between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA began as a policy idea in the 1980 platform of Republican President Ronald Reagan and was negotiated by his Republican successor, President George H.W. Bush. Large left-leaning labor unions strongly opposed NAFTA, and most Democrats in Congress voted against it. Clinton put his political capital behind what was then a significant right-of-center policy goal and achieved it by relying upon more support from Republicans than from his own party. [27]

NAFTA remained highly unpopular with left-of-center labor unions and most Democrats, an animosity that grew over time to also include Republican protectionists, most prominently President Donald Trump. [28] In 2018, at the instigation of President Trump, the leaders of the NAFTA nations agreed to a successor agreement, the United States—Mexico—Canada Agreement (USMCA). [29]

However, assessing the legacy of Clinton’s NAFTA and free trade policy in September 2007, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan joked to an interviewer that Clinton had been “the best Republican president we’ve had in a while.” This observation was made nearly seven years after Clinton had left the White House and more than halfway through the second term of Republican President George W. Bush. [30]

Welfare Reform

As a candidate in 1992 Clinton had campaigned on the promise to “end welfare as we know it.” In 1996, with the cooperation of a Republican-controlled Congress, he agreed to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, a welfare reform law that limited a recipient to no more than five years of lifetime welfare support, required most recipients to find gainful employment, and gave states greater flexibility in administering their welfare programs. According to a 2016 analysis of the 1996 reform in The Atlantic, 13 million Americans were receiving “cash assistance” from the government in the year before welfare reform was passed, and their number had fallen to 3 million by 2016. [31]

In August 2006, ten years after he signed the law and more than five years after leaving office, Clinton wrote an essay for the New York Times defending and praising the results of his welfare reform policy. [32] Republicans, libertarians, and right-of-center policy advocates largely agreed with Clinton’s assessment of the reform, but that opinion was not shared by many on the left, many of whom opposed the reform from the beginning. [33]

Mary Jo Bane, described in 1996 by the Chicago Tribune as Clinton administration’s “top welfare adviser,” resigned in protest before the welfare reform law took effect. She was joined by Peter Edelman, then head of planning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and husband of longtime Hillary Clinton friend Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the left-leaning Children’s Defense Fund. The Tribune noted Marion had also “publicly excoriated the president for signing the bill.” [34]

In 1999, Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor during the first term of the Clinton administration, criticized the law for being a “tough” rather than “correct” welfare policy. “In effect,” wrote Reich, “what was dubbed welfare “reform” merely ended the promise of help to the indigent and their children which Franklin D. Roosevelt had initiated more than sixty years before.” According to journalist Christopher Hitchens, Reich’s wife responded to Congressional approval of the law by telling her husband: “You know, your President is a real asshole.” [35]

Crime Policy

In September 1994, Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, legislation passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress more commonly known as the 1994 “Crime Bill.” At the time Clinton pronounced it the “toughest, largest, smartest federal attack on crime in the history of our country.” [36] The NAACP disagreed, predicting the proposal’s increases in prisons and punishment would represent a “crime against the American people.” [37] Assessing the law’s results and criticisms two decades later, Clinton conceded: “We took a shotgun to it and just sent everybody to jail for too long.” [38]

The Crime Bill expanded the application of mandatory minimum sentences, increased spending for state prisons, added the death penalty as a punishment option for dozens of additional federal crimes and provided funding for hiring additional law enforcement officers. [39] Another controversial provision of the law imposed a ten-year ban on the sale and transfer modern sporting rifles (so-called “assault weapons”) and large capacity ammunition magazines—a ban that was not renewed after it expired in 2004. [40]

In 1994, then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden predicted the proposal would change the public perception of Democrats regarding crime policy:[41]

“Let me define the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is now for 60 new death penalties. That is what is in this bill. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party has 70 enhanced penalties…. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 100,000 cops. The liberal wing of the Democratic Party is for 125,000 new state prison cells.” [42]

While the ban on certain firearms in common use and the rest of the proposal was supported by most Democrats then controlling both chambers of the U.S. Congress, some—such as U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY)—opposed the increases in prisons and punishments and voted against the bill. For a 2019 report about the history of the legislation published by The Atlantic, Rangel recalled that Clinton staffers arranged for African-American ministers to visit his office “to raise hell about my position.” [43]

Two decades after passage of the law, many on the left-of-center and many civil libertarians blamed it for needlessly inflating the country’s prison population in general, and for disproportionately incarcerating African Americans in particular. An Occidental College history instructor writing a book review for Newsweek in 2015 analyzed the history of federal crime policy over the preceding century and credited the Clinton administration with the “greatest push to criminalize and incarcerate” of any President during the period. The essay noted that “by the time Clinton left office, the number of people under correctional control was seven times greater than at the beginning of the Johnson administration, and the black-to-white ratio for incarceration rates had risen from 3-to-1 to 6-to-1.” [44]

Listing similar statistics for a 2016 commentary published in The New Republic, Rutgers University history professor Donna Murch denounced the Clinton crime policy as a “cynical attempt to win back centrist white voters” that used “mass incarceration” as a “powerful tool to rebuild conservative white support for the Democratic Party.” Asserting that neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton deserved a left-of-center reputation, Murch wrote: “It is only because the experiences of the incarcerated and the poor have been so profoundly erased that the Clintons can be thought of as liberals (racial or otherwise) in any respect.” [45]

Similarly, in February 2016, the left-leaning Nation magazine published an essay by civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander titled “Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote.” Alexander wrote that President Clinton had escalated the “War on Crime” by more than what “many conservatives had imagined possible,” and criticized him for a policy that led to seven U.S. states where “African Americans constituted 80 to 90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison, even though they were no more likely than whites to use or sell illegal drugs.” [46]

Health Care Policy

In 1993 Clinton introduced a health insurance policy proposal that would have required most U.S. employers to purchase government-approved health insurance for employees and collect a proposed new federal tax from the employees for the program. [47] Identified by the phrase “managed competition,” the proposal was derided by critics from both the left and right as a subsidy designed to benefit large health insurance firms. [48]

At the time an estimated 86 percent of Americans were covered by a health insurance policy, many of them through plans voluntarily provided by their employer. Even as federal and state governments were already in charge of spending 44 percent of total U.S. health care dollars, the proposal represented a then-unprecedented increase in government influence over health insurance purchasing. President Clinton appointed his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton as chair of the task force that created and promoted the proposal, leading some critics to subsequently refer to the proposal as “HillaryCare.” [49]

Despite Democrats controlling both chambers of the U.S. Congress until January 1995, Clinton was unable to persuade federal lawmakers to support his plan. Chief among the criticisms was its complexity. Left-of-center journalist Christopher Hitchens—in an essay that expressed his personal preference for government-controlled “single-payer” health coverage—wrote that the Clinton plan represented “abysmal and labyrinthian complexity” that “embodied the worst of bureaucracy and the worst of “free enterprise.””[50]

While trying to muster support for the proposal, which would have required Americans and their employers to purchase of comprehensive health insurance policies, Hillary Clinton portrayed the health insurance industry as an enemy of reform to rally against. Speaking to a group of pediatricians in November 1993 she said, “It is time for you and for every American to stand up and say to the insurance industry: ‘Enough is enough—we want our health care system back.’”[51]

But neither she nor much media of the major media covering these incitements (such as NBC News[52] and the Knight-Ridder news service[53]) noted at the time that the so-called “Harry & Louise” commercials Hillary Clinton was referring to had been sponsored by a trade association representing only smaller health insurance providers. According to Sam Husseini, writing for a December 1993 issue of the left-leaning Nation, this was both a critical and deceitful oversight because the largest insurers had participated in the drafting of the Clinton proposal and the resulting legislation served the “interests of the insurance establishment.” [54]

Husseini quoted an analysis from Public Citizen, a left-leaning advocacy organization started by Ralph Nader: “The managed competition-style plan the Clintons have chosen virtually guarantees that the five largest health insurance companies — Aetna, Prudential, Met Life, Cigna and The Travelers — will run the show in the health care system.” [55]

This outcome wasn’t an accident, according to Husseini, because the big insurers helped write the plan: “These big companies helped develop Clinton’s plan of managed competition, and all but The Travelers paid for much of the research that was done by the Jackson Hole Group, an organization that drew up the original blueprint for managed competition.” [56] A February 1993 profile of the so-called Jackson Hole Group in the New York Times confirmed that it included “insurance executives” among its membership, had “provided much of the basic blueprint” for the Clinton policy, and that its proposal was derided by critics as “a kind of Insurance Industry Preservation Act.” [57]

An official from Physicians for a National Health Program (an organization that was promoting a left-leaning, totally government-run single-payer plan) noted in 1993 that the small insurers had reason to fear what the big insurers were up to: “The Clintons are getting away with murder by portraying themselves as opponents of the insurance industry. It’s only the small fry that oppose their plan. Under any managed-competition scheme, the small ones will be pushed out of the market very quickly.” [58]

Clinton-Lewinsky Scandal

On December 19, 1998, President Clinton became the second President in U.S history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. On February 12, 1999, after holding a trial and deliberating on the two articles of impeachment, the U.S. Senate held votes as to whether the House’s charges warranted removing President Clinton from office. The two roll calls resulted in 45 and 50 “guilty” votes of the 100 Senators, failing to register the two-thirds majority required by the U.S. Constitution to remove a President on either count.

The articles of impeachment charged Clinton with perjury and obstruction of justice. The allegations ultimately arose from statements the President made while being deposed eleven months earlier by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright in a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against Clinton by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. In April 1999 these statements led Judge Wright to cite the President for contempt of court for giving “false, misleading and evasive answers that were designed to obstruct the judicial process.” As such, Clinton became the first sitting U.S. President to be found in contempt by a federal court. [59]

Origins of the Paula Jones Lawsuit

In 1993, after Clinton had become President, reporters for the Los Angeles Times and the right-of-center American Spectator were separately speaking to a group of Arkansas State Police troopers who were asserting that Clinton—as the state’s governor while they worked on the governor’s security detail—had routinely used them to procure and conceal extramarital liaisons.

The L.A. Times published its story on December 21, 1993, citing interviews with four troopers and “signed affidavits” from two of them: Larry G. Patterson, a 26-year veteran with five years working the Clinton security detail; and Roger L. Perry, a 16-year veteran and president of the Arkansas State Police Association who worked the Clinton detail for four years. The newspaper obtained phone records that seemed to corroborate conversations between Clinton and the women identified by the troopers. The story also noted that Perry and one of the two unnamed troopers had said that “Clinton, as President, sought to discourage them from speaking out by offering them federal jobs.” [60]

Patterson told the Times: “We were more than bodyguards. We had to lie, cheat and cover up for that man.” Speaking to Patterson’s honesty, the director of the Arkansas State Police told the Times: “He likes to be heard. But I have never known him to lie to me or in his official duties.” The newspaper said the same commander had characterized Perry as “an honest and reliable law enforcement officer.” [61]

In his story for the December 1993 edition of The American Spectator, published shortly before the L.A. Times account, writer David Brock (then a right-of-center journalist) quoted a trooper other than Patterson and Perry who recounted anonymously what was purportedly a consensual sexual liaison between Clinton and a woman named “Paula.” [62] (Brock later became a staunch political ally of the Clintons and the founder of left-leaning political advocacy organizations such as of Media Matters for America and American Bridge 21st Century).

According to this trooper’s account, as retold by Brock:[63]

One of the troopers told the story of how Clinton had eyed a woman at a reception at the Excelsior Hotel in downtown Little Rock. According to the trooper, who told the story to both Patterson and Perry as well, Clinton asked him to approach the woman, whom the trooper remembered only as Paula, tell her how attractive the governor thought she was, and take her to a room in the hotel where Clinton would be waiting. As the troopers explained it, the standard procedure in a case like this was for one of them to inform the hotel that the governor needed a room for a short time because he was expecting an important call from the White House. (Not a terribly plausible story during the Reagan and Bush years, but it seemed to work like a charm with hotel clerks in Arkansas.) On this particular evening, after her encounter with Clinton, which lasted no more than an hour as the trooper stood by in the hall, the trooper said Paula told him she was available to be Clinton’s regular girlfriend if he so desired. [64]

Paula Corbin Jones (known more widely as “Paula Jones”) was 27 when the American Spectator story appeared and suspected from its specificity that local witnesses would soon connect the name “Paula” and the details of the story to her. Jones had previously alleged to witnesses that following a private meeting with Clinton in 1991, when she was a low-level Arkansas state employee working an event at the Excelsior Hotel, Clinton had exposed himself to her and made unwanted sexual contact. Jones further alleged she had immediately told a coworker, another friend, and her sister about the encounter—an allegation supported by the three other women who later provided sworn affidavits. Despite one of the women encouraging Jones to make a complaint right away, Jones did not do so until after the publication of Brock’s story made national news. [65]

In a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against President Clinton and Arkansas State Police trooper Danny Ferguson in May 1994, Jones alleged she had been approached at the Excelsior Hotel by a member of Clinton’s security detail (Ferguson) in March 1991, when she was then 24 years old. Her complaint stated she had accepted Ferguson’s offer to meet the governor, but vehemently denied she had engaged in any consensual sexual relations with Clinton or agreed to become his “regular girlfriend.” The complaint stated Jones’s coworker witnessed Ferguson’s invitation for Jones to meet the governor and that Jones had returned from the encounter “visibly shaken and upset.” The President, through his surrogates, denied ever meeting Jones at all. [66]

The President’s lawyers attempted to convince courts that the Jones lawsuit should be delayed until after he left office. But in May 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Clinton v. Jones that the sexual misconduct lawsuit could proceed even though Clinton was still the President. (In December 1997, Ferguson was removed from the lawsuit.)[67] [68]

On January 17, 1998, Clinton was deposed under oath by Jones’s lawyers and asked whether he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House employee who had been transferred to a job at the Pentagon. The question was aimed at helping establish whether Clinton had a habit of engaging in or expecting sexual relationships with subordinate government employees—a concern relevant because of Jones’ status as a young employee of the state of Arkansas at the time of the alleged incident. Clinton denied the relationship with Lewinsky and did so again nine days later before a national television audience. [69] [70] Clinton infamously said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” [71]

Federal Judge Susan Webber Wright, a former law student of Clinton’s, was presiding over the Jones lawsuit and to accommodate the President’s uniquely busy schedule had flown from Arkansas to Washington, D.C., for the deposition. One year later, she noted Clinton’s “false, misleading and evasive answers” in both the deposition and again on television when citing him for contempt of court. In addition to ordering the President to pay Ms. Jones’s attorney fees, Judge Wright’s contempt order demanded that he reimburse her court for the travel costs she incurred to attend the deposition. [72]

Lewinsky Cover-Up

The fact of President Clinton’s sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky was conclusively established when Lewinsky produced DNA evidence of having engaged in an intimate act with him. Lewinsky’s sworn testimony and that of several other important circumstantial witnesses eventually established that numerous sexual and romantic interactions between the President and Lewinsky had taken place, beginning in November 1995 continuing until at least March 1997. After exposure of this evidence, the President admitted under oath that “inappropriate intimate contact” had occurred. [73]

The historic record and the sworn testimony of more than one witness established strong evidence that President Clinton attempted to personally prevent Paula Jones’s legal team from learning of his relationship with Lewinsky and to prevent Lewinsky from truthfully testifying about that relationship. This behavior was part of the basis for the article of impeachment charging him with obstruction of justice.

Lewinsky Affidavits

In a sworn statement to a grand jury, Lewinsky testified that President Clinton personally informed her in a phone call that took place sometime beginning in the early morning hours (2:00 a.m. or 2:30 a.m.) of December 17, 1997, that her name was on a witness list that had been sent to his lawyers by attorneys representing Paula Jones. Lewinsky testified that she and Clinton discussed together what to do about this development, and that she was “100% sure” it was the President who suggested she sign an affidavit. She further testified that the unstated understanding between them was that this would “prevent me from being deposed” by the Jones lawyers. [74]

Two days later, December 19, the Jones lawyers served Lewinsky with a subpoena for her testimony. With the assistance of a lawyer procured for her by Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan, Lewinsky drafted an affidavit in which she stated: “I have never had a sexual relationship with the President.” Vernon Jordan later testified that Clinton knew Lewinsky was planning to submit an affidavit to the Jones attorneys denying a sexual relationship existed. Lewinsky testified that she asked Clinton if he wished to look at her affidavit and was told by the President that he didn’t need to see it because he had “seen 15 others”—previous drafts in which she would be swearing to essentially the same thing. [75]

Lewinsky submitted her affidavit on January 16, 1998, the day before President Clinton was scheduled to be deposed by the Jones lawyers. When Clinton was deposed the next day, his lawyers cited Lewinsky’s denial as justification for preventing Jones’s lawyers from asking the President about Lewinsky. Judge Susan Webber Wright refused this request and required Clinton to answer questions about his association with Lewinsky. The President responded by confirming Lewinsky’s affidavit was accurate and that there had been no sexual relationship between them. He further testified that he had had no substantive discussions with Lewinsky regarding whether she was on the witness list and what she might say. [76]

The Clinton-Lewinsky relationship became a public story four days later, on January 21st, when the Washington Post ran a story disclosing the President’s alleged affair with a White House intern and the allegation that he could be under investigation for lying under oath in the Jones deposition. That summer on August 6th, 1998, after receiving immunity from prosecution in exchange for her truthful testimony, Lewinsky appeared before a grand jury, recanted her first affidavit, and provided extensive sworn testimony admitting her sexual relationship with the President and further alleging efforts both of them undertook to conceal their relationship from the Jones attorneys. [77]

Betty Currie Testimony

President Clinton’s personal secretary Betty Currie testified to a grand jury that she was repeatedly put in the position of facilitating private meetings, phone calls, and gift exchanges between him and Lewinsky. The President’s secretary admitted to having obvious suspicions about the reasons for these interactions, but said she tried to distance herself as much as she could from the details. Currie stated that Lewinsky once told her “As long as no one saw us—and no one did—then nothing happened.” To this, Currie said she replied to Lewinsky: “Don’t want to hear it. Don’t say any more. I don’t want to hear any more.” [78]

Currie testified that at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night, January 17, 1998, Clinton called her less than three hours after he had concluded his deposition to the Jones lawyers and asked Currie to meet with him in the White House the next day, a Sunday afternoon. Currie told the grand jury that it was “rare for [President Clinton] to ask me to come in on Sunday.” [79]

According to Currie, Clinton was interested in confirming whether his secretary agreed with several statements he was making about his interactions with Lewinsky. She told the grand jury these statements included the following: “You were always there when she was there, right? We were never really alone,” “You could see and hear everything,” “Monica came on to me, and I never touched her, right?” “She wanted to have sex with me, and I can’t do that.” [80]

Currie said she indicated to the President that she agreed with his assertions. She also testified that he seemed “concerned.” Several days later, according to Currie’s account, the President spoke with her again and asked again for her to confirm the same or similar statements. [81]

However, when asked under oath, Currie stated what she believed to be the truth, as far as she knew it, namely that Clinton and Lewinsky had repeatedly been alone together in situations where they could be observed by no one. [82] Secret Service agents also testified that the President and Lewinsky were alone together on multiple occasions. [83]

In his deposition for the Jones case Clinton had repeatedly referenced Currie when asked questions about whether he had been alone with Lewinsky, raising the possibility that Currie would be called by the Jones lawyers to corroborate his account. After Clinton’s testimony had concluded, Judge Wright ordered all parties (including Clinton) “not to say anything whatsoever about the questions they were asked, the substance of the deposition” or “any details.” [84]

Summarizing its evaluation of the President’s discussion with Ms. Currie, beginning just hours after he was given these instructions, the Office of the Independent Counsel stated: [85]

The content of the President’s statements and the context in which those statements were made provide substantial and credible information that President Clinton sought improperly to influence Ms. Currie’s testimony. Such actions constitute an obstruction of justice and improper influence on a witness. [86]

On April 5, 1996, five months into their relationship, Lewinsky was transferred to a job at the Pentagon after her supervisors at the White House became concerned because she was frequently noticed nearby or with President Clinton. One Secret Service officer testified this behavior had become a “nuisance.” Upset about this change, Lewinsky testified that she complained to Clinton, whom she says gave a promise to her that he would find a way to return her to the White House if he was re-elected in November 1996. [87]

Lewinsky testified that their romantic relationship continued for slightly more than another year, until President Clinton told her he was ending it in May 1997, seven months beyond his reelection and right after the Supreme Court ruled that the Paula Jones lawsuit could go forward while he was still in office. In July 1997 Lewinsky sent a note to Clinton complaining that he had not yet gotten her reassigned back to the White House and implying that she might need to reveal their relationship to her parents to explain why she could not return to the White House. [88] [89]

On October 7, 1997, she sent Clinton another note chastising him for not helping with her job search and was by this time seeking employment outside of Washington, D.C. Coincidentally, on October 1 the Paula Jones attorneys had informed Clinton of their intention to depose him about his sexual relationships with women other than his spouse. Lewinsky testified that on October 9 President Clinton invited her to the White House to discuss her job search concerns and promised to help her find work in New York City. [90]

Lewinsky’s October 7 correspondence read in part:[91]

I’d like to ask you to help me secure a position in NY beginning 1 December. I would be very grateful, and I am hoping this is a solution for both of us. I want you to know that it has always been and remains more important to me to have you in my life than to come back. . . . Please don’t let me down. [92]

According to the testimony of Lewinsky and the other individuals involved, the effort to help her find work grew to include several close associates of President Clinton, such as Vernon Jordan, White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, Deputy Chief of Staff John Podesta, Clinton’s personal secretary Betty Currie, and United Nations Ambassador Bill Richardson. [93]

On December 5, 1997, the Paula Jones attorneys and Clinton’s lawyers exchanged witness lists, with the Jones team’s document including Lewinsky’s name. On December 7 Clinton had a meeting with Vernon Jordan, and on December 11, Jordan met with Lewinsky and began recommending her to several major with which Jordan was affiliated. As he did this, Jordan also assisted Lewinsky in securing the legal counsel that would subsequently draft her affidavit in the Jones case denying a sexual relationship with Clinton. [94] [95]

A search that included at least one job offer from U.S. Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson ended in early January 1998 when Revlon offered Lewinsky a job. This had come after Vernon Jordan arranged the personal intervention of Ronald Perelman, a billionaire investor in Revlon. During 1994, Jordan had also assisted legally embattled Clinton confidant Webster Hubbell in a job search, also securing Hubbell a contract for work at a firm owned by Perelman. [96] [97]

Lewinsky accepted the Revlon job and in response Vernon Jordan sent word back to President Clinton: “Mission accomplished.” [98]

Summarizing its evaluation of the President’s conduct in these matters, the report from the Office of the Independent Counsel (known colloquially as the “Starr Report” after Independent Counsel Ken Starr) stated: [99]

There is substantial and credible information that President Clinton endeavored to obstruct justice by helping Ms. Lewinsky obtain a job in New York at a time when she would have been a witness against him were she to tell the truth during the Jones case. [100]

Clinton Surrenders Law License

In June 2000 the Arkansas Supreme Court began proceedings to take away President Clinton’s law license. The complaint listed his “dishonesty, deceit, fraud and misrepresentation” in responding to the sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against him by Paula Jones. [101]

On January 19, 2001, the day before Clinton’s final day in office, Clinton and the Office of the Independent Counsel agreed to a deal whereby the President would not be prosecuted for perjury and obstruction of justice but would be required to surrender his law license for five years. [102]

Settlement of Jones Lawsuit

In November 1998, as the U.S. House of Representatives was considering the impeachment of the President, he agreed to a settlement with Paula Jones. He agreed to pay her $850,000 and was not required to admit guilt nor offer an apology. She had been seeking $525,000. [103]

Additionally, in her contempt order, Judge Wright ordered Clinton to pay $90,686 in legal fee reimbursements to Jones’s attorneys and other penalties. [104]

Blumenthal Counterattack

Called to testify in front of the grand jury investigating the President for potential perjury and obstruction of justice, Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal recounted his discussions with Clinton about Lewinsky shortly after then-still-rumors of the President’s relationship with her were revealed in the media. Blumenthal told the grand jury Clinton had denied there had been an intimate relationship and instead accused Lewinsky of attempting to blackmail him. [105]

Summarizing what Clinton had told him, Blumenthal testified: “She threatened him. She said that she would tell people they’d had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn’t be the stalker any more.” [106]

Ten days after the Lewinsky story broke in the media, CNN posted a summary of the scandal news to that point in time, in one case quoting a “White House official” who had said “Lewinsky was known in the White House West Wing as “the stalker.””[107]

Left-leaning journalist Christopher Hitchens and his wife, screenwriter Carol Blue, later swore under oath that Blumenthal—who had been a close friend of theirs for many years—had told them both that Lewinsky was a “stalker.” [108]

According to Hitchens, Blumenthal said Lewinsky was “a ‘stalker,’” that Clinton was “’the victim’ of a predatory and unstable sexually demanding young woman,” and that “Mr. Blumenthal used the word  ‘stalker’ several times.” Elaborating further in his testimony, Hitchens said: “I have personal knowledge that Mr. Blumenthal recounted to other people in the journalistic community the same story about Monica Lewinsky that he told to me and Carol Blue.” [109]

Blumenthal denied Hitchens’ account, saying he had “no idea” how derogatory information about Lewinsky and “attributed to a White House source” had appeared in the media. [110]

Responses from the First Lady

Just after President Clinton conceded he had engaged in “inappropriate intimate contact” with Lewinsky, First Lady Hillary Clinton declared Lewinsky a “narcissistic looney toon” during a private discussion with Diane Blair, a political science professor from Arkansas whom Hillary Clinton had identified as her “closest friend.” Ms. Blair’s summary of the discussion about Lewinsky was discovered by a researcher for the Washington Free Beacon and was published in 2014. [111] [112]

“It was a lapse, but she says to his credit he tried to break it off, tried to pull away, tried to manage someone who was clearly a ‘narcissistic loony toon’; but it was beyond control,” wrote Blair, quoting Ms. Clinton. “HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] insists, no matter what people say, it was gross inappropriate behavior but it was consensual (was not a power relationship) and was not sex within any real meaning (standup, liedown, oral, etc.) of the term.” [113]

Diane Blair was the wife of Jim Blair, the Arkansas lawyer the Clintons had identified as the advisor who provided the financial advice that led to Ms. Clinton’s controversially successful investing in the futures market during the late 1970s. After Diane Blair’s death in 2000, and with Hillary Clinton’s approval, Jim Blair donated to the University of Arkansas his wife’s notes from decades of discussions with Hillary Clinton. When most of the archive opened to the public in 2010, Clinton encouraged young scholars to investigate it thoroughly and “write the story of Diane.” [114]

The “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”

On January 27, 1998, during the week after rumors of the President’s then-alleged intimate relationship with Lewinsky appeared in the mainstream media, First Lady Hillary Clinton appeared as a guest on the NBC Today Show and repeatedly denied the relationship had existed. Questioned by host Matt Lauer to explain what was behind the then-exploding scandal, Ms. Clinton placed blame for the Lewinsky allegation on partisan enemies of the Clintons, including the independent counsel, Kenneth Starr. [115]

Lauer asked her: “If an American president had an adulterous liaison in the White House and lied to cover it up, should the American people ask for his resignation?” [116]

Clinton replied:

Well, I think that — if all that were proven true, I think that would be a very serious offense. That is not going to be proven true. I think we’re going to find some other things. And I think that when all of this is put into context, and we really look at the people involved here, look at their motivations and look at their backgrounds, look at their past behavior, some folks are going to have a lot to answer for. . . . [117]

Elaborating on who those “folks” would be, she identified alleged conspirators such as Starr, calling him “a politically motivated prosecutor who is allied with the right-wing opponents of my husband.” Later she clarified it was bigger than just Starr: “It’s not just one person. It’s an entire operation.” [118]

And in a statement she and her supporters would continue to identify with many years afterward, she summarized her opinion of the Lewinsky allegation: “This is, the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.” [119]

Running for President herself in February 2016, Hillary Clinton was asked whether the alleged conspiracy still existed. She replied that “it’s probably not correct to say it’s a conspiracy because it’s out in the open,” and that there was “no doubt about who the players are, what they’re trying to achieve.” [120]

Broaddrick Rape Allegation

In February 1999, one week after the U.S. Senate failed to muster the 67 votes needed to remove Clinton from office, the Wall Street Journal reported that Arkansas businesswoman Juanita Broaddrick had alleged that Clinton had raped her in 1978 when he was Arkansas Attorney General and a candidate for governor. [121] Broaddrick had given an on-camera interview with Lisa Myers of NBC News, but the network did not broadcast it until after the Wall Street Journal report appeared. [122]

Five witnesses (four other women and one man) have supported Broaddrick’s claim that she told them of the assault just after she alleged it occurred and witnessed the injured lip she asserts was bitten by Clinton. Broaddrick stated in 1999 that she did not report the alleged 1978 rape to police because she feared Clinton’s political influence as attorney general and the possibility that the ensuing public scrutiny would expose her extra-marital affair with David Broaddrick, the man she would later marry, and one of her five contemporaneous witnesses. [123]

According to the Washington Post, she broke her public silence only because the Paula Jones lawsuit against Clinton forced her to go on the record:[124]

Broddrick’s story circulated in Arkansas for years. As Clinton moved up the political ladder towards the presidency in 1992, his adversaries tried to convince her to go public, but she refused. Five years later, she signed an affidavit for investigators representing Paula Jones, denying that the president made unwelcome sexual advances.

On April 8, 1998, however, Broaddrick recanted her sworn testimony in the Jones suit under independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s promise of immunity. Broaddrick said she lied in the Jones suit because she did not want to be drawn into the case against the president. Starr included her statement as a footnote in the evidence he sent to Congress. [125]

That reference to Broaddrick in Starr’s report led NBC reporter Lisa Myers to pursue Broaddrick for an interview. Myers said in the NBC report that Broaddrick “finally” consented to tell the story after “months of contact with us.” [126]

Broaddrick, a registered nurse, was the owner-operator of an Arkansas nursing home and claimed she met Clinton for the first time in early 1978 when he stopped there during his first campaign for governor. [127] A photo appearing to be from the era shows a younger Clinton and Broaddrick wearing campaign buttons and standing with an elderly man and woman. [128]

Broaddrick says that during this first meeting she volunteered to help with Clinton’s campaign and was told to call him personally to discuss it the next time she was in Little Rock. She attended a nursing home conference at a Little Rock hotel soon afterward, says she made the call, and was told by Clinton to meet her at the hotel coffee shop. She says she agreed to this, but then received a follow up call from Clinton telling her the coffee shop was full of reporters and suggesting instead that the meeting be moved to her hotel room. She agreed to this as well, and claims the rape occurred there. [129]

Norma Kelsey, Broaddrick’s roommate for the conference, confirmed to NBC that she knew Juanita was planning to meet Clinton that day and then later found Broaddrick very upset, physically roughed up and claiming to have been raped by Clinton. NBC found records to establish Broaddrick’s attendance at the April 1978 conference, and other small details of the physical space that fit with Broaddrick’s account. [130]

“So was Bill Clinton even in Little Rock on April 25, 1978?” asked Myers during the NBC broadcast. “Despite our repeated requests, the White House would not answer that question and declined to release any information about his schedule.” [131]

“So we checked 45 Arkansas newspapers and talked to a dozen former Clinton staffers,” continued Myers. “We found no evidence that Clinton had any public appearances on the morning in question.” [132]

After Broaddrick’s media appearances, Clinton’s lawyer issued a statement: “Any allegation that the president assaulted Mrs. Broaddrick more than 20 years ago is absolutely false. Beyond that, we are not going to comment.” [133]

At a White House news conference shortly after this statement was made, Sam Donaldson of ABC News asked Clinton to personally refute the rape allegation. Clinton refused to answer and referred to the lawyer’s statement. “Can you not simply deny it, sir?” objected Donaldson, just as the President moved on to another question. [134]

The late left-leaning journalist Christopher Hitchens wrote that Clinton’s silence regarding Broaddrick was both unprecedented and revealing because he said the President had repeatedly been a “hysterical, habitual liar” when personally and publicly refuting assertions made about him by other women (such as Monica Lewinsky) that later turned out to be true. “If I was accused of rape, and the woman making the charge was a lady of obvious integrity,” wrote Hitchens, “I would want to do better than have a lawyer make a routine disclaimer.” [135]

Hitchens further asserted: “I also know of three other women who I suspect could, if they chose, lay a charge of assault against Clinton.”

For the chapter about Broaddrick in his book, No One Left to Lie To, Hitchens wrote of a woman in the San Francisco area who was professionally connected to left-leaning causes and claimed to have been sexually assaulted by Clinton in the early 1970s. Hitchens wrote that he established a correspondence with the woman after receiving a tip about her story from a mutual acquaintance. He said he knew the woman’s name but withheld it because she wished to remain anonymous. [136]

In January 2008, Hitchens noted that what he wrote in that book (in a chapter he titled “Is there a rapist in the Oval Office?”) had “never been challenged by anybody in the fabled Clinton “rapid response” team.” [137]

Similarly, the late left-wing feminist writer Andrea Dworkin wrote an essay sometime in 1999 titled “Are You Listening, Hillary? President Rape Is Who He Is.” The essay was contained within a larger autobiographical work Dworkin had finished but not been able to publish before her death. Her literary executor discovered it and released it in 2007. [138]

In several angry, expletive-laced sentences Dworkin declared she had believed Broaddrick: [139]

President Rape is who he is. Proud President Rape. Everyone turned from Juanita Broddrick [sic]. Everyone looked away. Every [expletive deleted] blinked. It’s pretty [expletive deleted] brilliant to use force after the [expletive deleted], as he did with most of the others I know about, intimidate them, have them threatened, destroy their reputations, say they’re lying or stalkers or a little mentally unhinged, having delusions of grandeur as if being [expletive deleted] or mauled or harassed by him was something one dreamed of…. Always easier to blame the woman. Are you listening, Hillary? So much easier to be angry with them rather than with him. Have I got your attention, Hillary? You decide these women, every last one of them, are pieces of [expletive deleted] and he’s the shinola. [140]

Whitewater Controversy

Two Arkansas business enterprises with which the Clintons were involved during Bill Clinton’s governorship were at the center of multiple legal and legislative investigations that led to felony convictions and the appointment of an independent counsel whose work investigating the Clintons lasted for the final seven years of the Clinton administration and beyond. Colloquially known as the “Whitewater scandal” or simply “Whitewater,” it involved the Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, a real estate venture called the Whitewater Development Corporation, and other Arkansas businesses connected to those two or the Clintons. [141]

Over the course of the investigation, three different federal lawyers served as the independent counsel at the head of the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC): first Robert Fiske, then Kenneth Starr, and finally Robert Ray. Numerous individuals who received federal felony convictions in relation to the Whitewater investigation were also pursued by the OIC as potential witnesses to alleged crimes involving the Clintons and their business and political associates. [142]

One of the individuals most directly connected to the leadership of Madison S&L and the Whitewater Development Corporation, Susan McDougal, refused to cooperate with a federal grand jury and the OIC and was jailed for contempt. The OIC also determined that Webster Hubbell, another individual with close business and political ties to the Clintons, did not provide credible evidence to the office. [143]

In his memoir about the investigation, independent counsel Kenneth Starr cited the lack of cooperation from Hubbell and Susan McDougal as main impediments to the OIC’s investigation: “Susan and Webb were impossible. Squeezing the truth out of those turnips was maddening, but we felt obliged to use every lawful tool at our disposal to get to the bottom of what happened.” [144]

On September 20, 2000, independent counsel Robert Ray announced there was “insufficient evidence” to bring criminal charges against either of the Clintons in relation to the Whitewater land deal. Starr wrote in his book that his team had earlier reached a similar conclusion not to indict Hillary Clinton and again lamented the obstacles to doing so: “What would have happened if Vince Foster had been alive, if Webb Hubbell and Susan McDougal had been cooperative, we could only speculate.” The Wall Street Journal responded with an editorial declaring “the cover up worked.” [145] [146]

Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan

The Madison S&L was owned by Jim McDougal, onetime husband of Susan. Federal regulators closed it in 1989, due to mounting financial loses that cost taxpayers $60 million ($140 million in 2019 dollars), and indicted Jim McDougal for bank fraud—a charge for which he was acquitted in 1990. [147]

Jim McDougal would later testify to federal investigators that in late 1984, then-Governor Bill Clinton personally asked him to give Hillary Clinton some of Madison’s legal work. By March 1985, Hillary Clinton, then a partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, was on a $2,000 monthly retainer to do work for Madison (equivalent to $57,000 per year in 2019 dollars). After issuing a report accusing Jim McDougal of diverting the bank’s funds to insiders, federal regulators removed him from the board of directors in August 1986. [148]

In August 1992—two months before Clinton would be elected President—federal bank investigators drafted a criminal referral alleging check kiting at Madison, and listing then-Gov. Bill Clinton and then-Lt. Gov. Jim Guy Tucker (D) as potential beneficiaries. On October 4th or 5th of 1993, according to the Wall Street Journal, President Bill Clinton was informed that the referral had been elevated to an investigation at the U.S. Department of Justice. On October 6th, Tucker—who had ascended to the governorship when Clinton was elected President—met with the President at the White House. [149]

In August 1995, the OIC investigating Whitewater indicted the McDougals and Gov. Tucker for conspiracy and bank fraud related to Madison. President Clinton gave four hours of testimony as a defense witness for the trio, but a jury found them all guilty in May 1996. [150]

In his October 1991 announcement that he would run for President, Clinton had denounced “S&L crooks and self-serving CEOs.” [151]

Whitewater Development Corporation

In August 1978, the McDougals and the Clintons jointly purchased 230 acres for a land development along Arkansas’ White River. At the time of the purchase, Bill Clinton was the Arkansas attorney general. He was elected governor in November 1978, and according the Wall Street Journal he subsequently appointed Jim McDougal as a “top economic advisor.” The Journal also reports 1978 as the year Hillary Clinton became a partner in the Rose Law Firm. [152]

The Clintons and McDougals formed the Whitewater Development Corporation in 1979. McDougal purchased the Madison S&L in 1982. [153]

In August 1986, Arkansas judge and businessman David Hale provided a $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal from the federally insured small business investment corporation he ran. But he concealed it as a loan to Master Marketing, McDougal’s advertising firm. At least some of this money was deposited into the Whitewater Development Corporation account. [154]

Hale’s business practices resulted in an indictment in 1993 for defrauding the federal government, and a conviction in 1996. On July 20, 1993, the same day that the FBI obtained a warrant to search Hale’s office as part of this investigation, Vince Foster—the White House deputy counsel and a former Rose Law Firm partner of First Lady Hillary Clinton—committed suicide. Hale later cooperated with the OIC and testified that Gov. Clinton and Jim McDougal had pressured him into making the $300,000 loan ($704,000 in 2019 dollars) to Susan McDougal’s business. [155]

Speaking to a federal grand jury and later in his posthumously published memoir, Jim McDougal corroborated Hale’s account regarding the loan. [156] In May 1996, according to NPR, Susan McDougal was convicted of “misusing a $300,000 loan obtained in the name of her Master Marketing advertising company from a lender backed by the Small Business Administration and operated by Clinton’s chief accuser in the Whitewater affair, David Hale.” [157] [158]

In March 1992, during Clinton’s Presidential campaign, the New York Times published the first story detailing the connections between the Clintons, the troubled Madison S&L, McDougal, and Whitewater. Weeks later the Clinton campaign released a statement asserting the Clintons were not associated with any wrongdoing and had lost $68,000 ($160,000 in 2019 dollars) on their Whitewater investment. In December 1992, following Clinton’s victory in the Presidential election, but before he assumed office, Vince Foster arranged for Jim McDougal to purchase the Clintons’ Whitewater Development shares for $1,000. [159]

On July 20, 1993, the evening of Foster’s suicide, Clinton aides entered Foster’s office and a White House Secret Service officer later testified that Hillary Clinton Chief of Staff Maggie Williams left with an armload of files. The Wall Street Journal states that White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum was still searching Foster’s office two days later and refusing to allow investigators access to the room. More than a year later in August 1994, and five months after Nussbaum’s resignation, the White House reported that Whitewater files had been removed from Foster’s office and turned over to the Clintons’ personal attorney. [160]

According to the Journal, citing Susan McDougal, Hillary Clinton had taken personal possession of the Whitewater records sometime during 1986, a year in which then-Gov. Clinton was seeking reelection. [161]

Susan McDougal

The Office of the Independent Counsel presumed that as party to the business affairs of Whitewater Development Corporation and the Madison S&L, Susan McDougal—like Jim McDougal—would be in a position to provide valuable testimony regarding the participation by the Clintons (if any) in the legal controversies involving the two institutions. In his memoir, OIC chief Kenneth Starr states that he offered Susan McDougal immunity from prosecution in exchange for her truthful testimony. Because this immunity offer removed the Fifth Amendment concern that McDougal would be compelled to give incriminating evidence against herself, the federal judge ordered her to answer the OIC and grand jury questions. [162] [163]

Less than two weeks after her August 1996 sentencing for participating in the $300,000 loan involving David Hale, McDougal was cited for contempt when she refused to answer questions about the President before a Whitewater grand jury. Less than three weeks later President Clinton told a PBS interviewer that he was considering giving pardons to Whitewater defendants. Susan McDougal maintained her silence for the remainder of the OIC’s investigation and received a presidential pardon from Clinton on his last day in office. [164] [165]

Jim McDougal, who had been cooperating with the OIC, died of a heart attack at age 57 in March 1998. [166]

Webster Hubbell

According to a 1994 report in the Los Angeles Times, Hillary Clinton, Webster Hubbell, and Vince Foster were once three of the four managing partners in Little Rock’s Rose Law Firm. In 1984 then-Gov. Clinton appointed Hubbell to a vacancy on the Arkansas Supreme Court. When Clinton became President, Hubbell came to Washington as the Associate Attorney General, the third-highest ranking position at the U.S. Department of Justice. The L. A. Times portrayed the relationship between President Clinton and Hubbell as very close friends with a history of socializing and professional trust. [167] [168]

Because Hubbell was once one of the top partners with Hillary Clinton in the Rose Law Firm, the OIC believed he could provide valuable testimony regarding her legal work for the Madison S&L and other business matters involving the Clintons. In December 1994, Hubbell pleaded guilty to charges that he had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from his law partners and agreed to cooperate with the OIC’s Whitewater investigation. [169] [170]

The preceding March 1994, according to the Wall Street Journal, top White House aides—including Thomas McLarty, a childhood friend of Bill Clinton—began discussing how to “arrange financial aid” for Hubbell. On March 14, nine months before he would plead guilty to stealing from the Rose firm, Hubbell resigned his position as Associate Attorney General. By June the Lippo Group, an Indonesian firm with ties to Arkansas, had paid Hubbell $100,000 for what the Journal stated was “undisclosed services.” [171]

A similar report from the Associated Press noted that by April 1994, shortly after Hubbell resigned from the U.S. Department of Justice, Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan had arranged a $60,000 payment to Hubbell from the firm of Ronald Perelman, a billionaire investor in Revlon. The Associated Press tabulated the total payments to Hubbell for the two years after his resignation at more than $500,000 ($844,000 in 2019 dollars) from 14 different sources. [172]

Hints of Hubbell’s willingness to protect the Clintons were indicated in recordings made of conversations between him and his wife, Suzy, while Hubbell was serving his prison sentence. According to a Washington Post account of the exchanges, Hubbell was considering a lawsuit against his former law firm that might “embarrass his former partners” and discussed it with his wife. Suzy, who was then still holding a job as a political appointee within the Clinton administration, warned her husband that she had received warnings about his loyalty from Marsha Scott, a White House aide and “longtime friend of President Clinton.” [173]

Quoting Scott, Suzy Hubbell told Webster he would lose his “public support if you open up Hillary to all this.” Characterizing her own understanding of that advice, Suzy concluded: “Well, by public support I know exactly what she means. I’m not stupid.” Hubbell replied: “I told you I will not do that. I will not raise those allegations that might open it up to Hillary.” [174]

“I’m hearing the squeeze play,” said Suzy, after stating it was her understanding that her job could be in jeopardy if Hubbell sued the firm and angered the White House. Replying to this concern, her husband said: “So I need to roll over one more time.” [175]

Suzy also asked if a lawsuit exploring overbillings at the law firm could cause troubles for Hillary Clinton. Hubbell replied with a non-answer warning: “We’re on a recorded phone, Suzy.” [176]

According to the Post, Hubbell also spoke directly with Marsha Scott that day—March 25, 1996—and asked her: “Have I ever been disloyal?” [177]

“Oh, God, no,” said Scott. [178]

“And I am not going to be here,” replied Hubbell. [179]

According to the Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1996, was also the day David Hale was “sentenced to 28 months in prison for defrauding the federal government.” [180]  As a cooperating witness for the OIC, Hale testified that Bill Clinton and Jim McDougal had pressured him to make a $300,000 loan to Susan McDougal, at least some of which was deposited into a Whitewater Development Corporation account. [181]  Jim McDougal corroborated Hale’s accusation and Susan McDougal was also convicted of crimes related to this loan. [182]  [183]

The Washington Post account of Hubbell’s prison conversations with his wife also touches on media reports about payments he had received from the Lippo Group. “I’m not telling anybody what I did or what they paid me,” said Hubbell. [184]

Noting the “pattern” of “generous payments made at the behest of the White House for amorphous professional services,” Starr speculated in his book about the investigation that Hubbell might have been receiving “hush money.” The former OIC chief’s opinion throughout his memoir was that Hubbell had not provided full and truthful testimony to the investigation. [185]

Other Controversies

Several controversies regarding the personal, political and business conduct of Bill and Hillary Clinton have emerged since his 1992 Presidential campaign.

Travelgate

In May 1993 White House aide David Watkins ordered the firing of the seven-person staff of the White House travel office. [186] In operation since the days of President Andrew Jackson, the travel office had provided logistical arrangements for reporters seeking to travel with the President. [187] A February 1995 Washington Post report on the incident described it as “one of the Clinton administration’s great political embarrassments.” [188] According to the New York Times, in October 2000 the Office of the Independent Counsel (OIC) investigating the incident issued a report declaring Hillary Clinton had “given “factually false” sworn testimony” and “played a far greater role in the dismissals than she had admitted,” but that there was “insufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against Mrs. Clinton.” [189]

In its initial justification for the firings, the White House stated it had evidence of corruption by travel office director Billy Dale. Shortly afterward, five of the six other fired employees were given jobs elsewhere in the federal government. Dale had been a travel office employee since 1961 and his former coworkers defended his honesty when the Washington Post profiled them in 1995. The Post also explained the unorthodox practices required of the travel office, such as handling the payment of “tips” that were often demanded by corrupt officials in some of the nations that Presidents visited. [190] [191]

The Post stated that White House aide Catherine A. Cornelius had encouraged the FBI to investigate Dale, which resulted in him being prosecuted for embezzlement. [192] In November 1995, after deliberating on the evidence for two hours, a jury found him not guilty. [193] No other travel office employees were prosecuted.

The fired employees, according to the Post, were replaced by “Arkansans and longtime Clinton supporters.” Cornelius, a “distant cousin” of President Clinton had “handled travel for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign” and “began efforts to take over the travel office before Inauguration Day” (i.e. well before she could have investigated any alleged misdeeds by Dale). Part of Cornelius’ effort, said the Post, was meetings with Betta Carney, “a Clinton campaign contributor” and the president of World Wide Travel. Carney’s Arkansas-based travel agency had handled work for the Democratic National Committee, and following Clinton’s election as President a World Wide official had been quoted by an Arkansas publication saying they “expected to get the White House travel business.” [194]

In an internal memo about the decision written shortly after the staffers were fired in 1993, White House aide David Watkins explained to his boss that “there would be hell to pay” if “we failed to take swift and decisive action in conformity with the first lady’s wishes.” Watkins also wrote that Clinton had told him: “We need our people in there.” [195]

The Watkins memo was released by the White House in response to a Congressional investigation of the travel office firings, and the revelation led to Watkins being brought to testify under oath to a grand jury in 1995. In October 2000 the New York Times, citing the independent counsel’s report from that grand jury testimony, quoted Watkins confirming the pressure for the dismissals had come from Hillary Clinton, saying she had told him “there are too many leftovers that can create and cause us problems.” [196]

In her 1995 deposition to investigators, according to the Times, Hillary Clinton had been asked if she had “any role” in the firings and replied, “No, I did not.” To a follow up question from a prosecutor as to whether she gave “any input” to Watkins, Clinton responded, “I don’t believe I did, no.” [197]

Explaining the discrepancy between the Clinton and Watkins accounts, a Clinton lawyer declared it a “semantic quibble,” that his client had said that she did not have a “decision-making role” (as opposed to no role at all), and that the decision to fire the staff was made only by Watkins. [198]

Citing eight conversations Hillary Clinton had with top White House staffers, the independent counsel issued this verdict on her veracity: “It is, in the independent counsel’s judgment beyond peradventure that as a matter of historical fact, Mrs. Clinton’s input into the process was a significant — if not the significant — factor influencing the pace of events in the travel office firings and the ultimate decision to fire the employees. Accordingly, the independent counsel concludes that Mr. Clinton’s sworn testimony that she had no input into Watkins’s decision or role in the travel office firings is factually inaccurate.” [199]

In early November 2000, three weeks after the independent counsel issued this report, Hillary Clinton was elected to the United States Senate.

Execution of Ricky Ray Rector

In January 1992, in the run up to the New Hampshire Democratic Primary, a supermarket tabloid published an allegation from former Arkansas state employee Gennifer Flowers that she had been involved in an extra-marital affair with Clinton. Bill and Hillary Clinton made a joint appearance on CBS’s 60 Minutes, following the Super Bowl in February 1992, where he denied the affair took place. Flowers responded by revealing recordings of friendly phone calls between her and Clinton, seeming to validate that some type of very friendly relationship had existed. [200] Six years later, Clinton would admit in a federal deposition that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with Gennifer Flowers. [201]

Clinton’s previously strong political position in New Hampshire declined sharply during the media frenzy after the allegation, with one poll showing his support falling 12 percentage points. [202]

Coincidentally, Ricky Ray Rector, a murderer convicted of killing an Arkansas police officer and one other man, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on January 24, 1992. Rector’s death sentence was highly controversial because immediately after shooting the police officer he had attempted to commit suicide by shooting himself in the temple with the same pistol, but survived with what doctors described as a self-inflicted lobotomy that left him with the reasoning capacity of a young child. [203]

Under the circumstances, Rector’s lawyers and other advocates argued (ultimately without success) that Rector was neither competent to participate in his own legal defense, nor properly comprehend the gravity of a death sentence. In his final days Rector watched television news reports showing the two biggest current events in Arkansas: his own looming execution and the Clintons’ controversy with Flowers. Logs from prison guards report Rector responded to these stories by dancing, barking like a dog, shouting in anticipation about his execution and (incongruously) that he also planned to vote for Clinton in the Presidential election that would occur long past his scheduled death. When fed his final meal, he asked that the dessert be kept for later, as he planned to return to finish it. [204]

According to journalist Marshall Frady writing in the New Yorker a year after Rector’s execution, Clinton returned to Arkansas the day before the execution “to be in place to attend directly to whatever last appeals and legal considerations might develop.” But because Clinton had already signed the death warrant, Frady noted Arkansas’s lieutenant governor was legally empowered to handle these matters if the governor was not present, up to and including issuing a stay of execution, and that there was no legal requirement for Clinton to be physically present in the state. Furthermore, the lieutenant governor (like Clinton) had already stated his intention to let the execution proceed. [205]

Many pundits and critics have asserted Clinton’s motive in returning to Arkansas was to deflect attention from the Flowers controversy and boost his polling numbers as a “tough on crime” governor who put a cop killer to death. Frady cited a quote about Clinton from prominent New York political consultant David Garth: “He had someone put to death who had only part of a brain. You can’t find them any tougher than that.” [206]

In his book No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton, left-of-center journalist and death penalty opponent Christopher Hitchens declared Rector a “human sacrifice” to Clinton’s political ambitions. Hitchens also observed that a Republican politician (he cited Ronald Reagan as an example) would never have dared to stage a “photo-op execution” of a mentally incapacitated African American, out of fear of receiving a “fulminant liberal response that Clinton avoided.” [207]

Frady reported that Rector’s lawyer called every half hour on the day Clinton returned to Arkansas, hoping to speak to the governor, but was repeatedly denied access. Frady quoted the attorney’s pleas to Clinton’s staff: “Look, the Governor has said he was coming back to deal with the execution issue with Rector. I mean, who’s he gonna talk to, if not the defense attorneys?” [208]

In frustration, the defense attorney took Rector’s case to the media. Frady reports Clinton finally called the attorney after television reports. Shortly after arriving in the state, Clinton did take a call from Jesse Jackson, who also argued—to no avail—that the execution should be called off “on a moral, humanitarian basis.” [209]

Hillary Clinton Commodities Trading

In October 1978, as First Lady of Arkansas while Bill Clinton was the governor, Hillary Clinton invested $1000 in the commodities futures market and over the course of nine months made a profit of nearly $100,000 ($386,000 in 2019 dollars). When a New York Times report revealed this in March 1994, the newspaper reported that Hillary Clinton had done it with the “advice of a friend who was the top lawyer for one of the state’s most powerful and heavily regulated companies.” The Times identified Hillary’s confidant as Jim Blair, then a top lawyer for Arkansas poultry giant Tyson Foods. [210]

White House spokesman John Podesta denied any wrongdoing in the matter on behalf of the Clinton White House: “Mrs. Clinton put up her own money, invested it in her own accounts, and assumed the full risk of loss.” [211] He also accused the mainstream media of manufacturing a conspiracy: “Hillary and Jim were friends. He gave her advice. There was no impropriety. The only appearance is being created by the New York Times.” [212]

An investigation published in the Journal of Economics and Statistics calculated the odds against such an investing success at 250 million to 1. [213] (The odds against winning the multi-state Powerball grand prize are roughly 292 million to 1. [214])  A futures market expert interviewed by Newsweek compared Hillary Clinton’s investing performance to competing as an Olympic figure skater one day after lacing up skates for the first time. [215]

Hillary Clinton and Jim Blair both identified Robert “Red” Bone as the commodities broker who placed the trades for Clinton. [216]

The Washington Post revealed that Bone was later accused by regulators of “allocating” trades. [217] Allocating is a process whereby a broker waits until the results of a trading day are known, and then decides—after the fact—which clients made the winning and losing bets.  Allocating is sometimes used to secretly transfer large amounts of money from one individual to another, where a donor wishing to hide the transfer of money reports a trading loss, the intended recipient of the secret donation records a gain, and a cooperating broker fills in the official paperwork to make the transaction appear as two supposedly unrelated trading decisions. [218]

A lawyer representing Bone was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times in 1994 and said that while Bone had admitted to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that he improperly allocated trades, he never received complaints from any of his clients about unfair treatment. [219]

The New York Times reported that Bone, like Blair, had been a Tyson employee for more than a decade. Additionally, Blair had been Bone’s attorney in “regulatory proceedings and other legal disputes” over the course of 15 years. [220]

But when asked about his work for the Clintons by the New York Times, Bone repeatedly tried to deny it:

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Blair have said that they used Robert L. (Red) Bone, the broker who founded the Springdale office of Refco, a Chicago commodities firm, to execute the trades. But Mr. Bone, who worked at Tyson for 13 years until 1973, insisted in several interviews this month that he has no recollection of ever trading for Mrs. Clinton or talking to her about commodities trades.

“I can’t recall ever dealing with the Clintons,” Mr. Bone said in an interview on March 9. After Mr. Blair suggested that Mr. Bone was trying to protect the Clintons’ privacy and recommended that a reporter try to talk to the broker again, Mr. Bone again insisted that he had no recollection of ever trading for the Clintons. [221]

The Clinton White House subsequently stipulated that Blair received the trade orders from Hillary and passed them along to Bone. According to the March 1994 New York Times report, Blair was a “close friend” of the Clintons during the era who said he “suggested that she get into the commodities market” and further that “he used his knowledge of trading to guide her along the way.” The Times also revealed that brokerage statements for these transactions “appear on an account that spells Mrs. Clinton’s first name wrong.” [222] [223]

According to the Washington Post: “The Clintons’ large profits in commodities trading were nearly as large as their combined salaries for those years and came at a time when they had virtually no assets.” [224]

Refusal to Release Tax Returns

During the 1992 Presidential race, according to a New York Times report, “the Clintons and their aides gave conflicting accounts when asked to explain where the couple got the money to make a $60,000 down payment on a house in 1980.” (Adjusted for inflation, $60,000 in 1980 is equivalent to more than $187,000 in 2019 dollars.) The March 1994 Times report further noted: “During the campaign, aides declined to release the Clintons’ tax returns for the late 1970’s and did so again today.” [225]

The tax returns at issue covered the period in the late 1970s during which Hillary Clinton invested $1,000 in the commodities market and within a year realized a gain of nearly $100,000. When this extraordinary and controversial investing success was revealed in March 1994, the Clintons cited it as part of the basis for the $60,000 down payment on their 1980 home purchase. [226]

Debating Republican Donald Trump as the Democratic nominee in an October 2016 Presidential debate, Hillary Clinton criticized her opponent for not releasing his tax returns:

He is the first candidate ever to run for president in the last 40-plus years who has not released his tax returns, so everything he says about charity or anything else, we can’t prove it. You can look at our tax returns. We’ve got them all out there. [227]

PolitiFact, a left-leaning website run by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, ruled Clinton’s accusation against Trump “mostly true,” with the clarification that “Every other major nominee for the past 40 years have released their tax returns, except Gerald Ford.” [228] Likewise, Donald Judd of CBS News fact-checked Clinton’s statement as “true,” and also citied Gerald Ford as the only exception. [229]

President Ford last ran for President in 1976, 40 years before the 2016 Presidential contest and two years before Ms. Clinton began her brief foray into commodities trading.

DNC Campaign Finance Controversy

Prior to Clinton’s 1996 re-election the Democratic National Committee received at least $2.8 million in donations later identified as suspect or illegal because the money originated from donors in the People’s Republic of China and other Asian nations. (It is illegal for foreign nationals to donate to U.S. federal elections.) The Wall Street Journal broke the story of the donations in early October 1996, one month before the election. Five months later in March 1997 the Washington Post reported that earlier in 1996 the FBI had briefed six members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), that federal law enforcement had discovered a plot by the “government of China” to “spend nearly $2 million to buy influence not only in Congress but also within the Clinton administration.” [230] [231]

The DNC returned the suspect donations and the Chinese government denied the allegation. Beginning in November 1996 and through the end of the Clinton administration U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno repeatedly refused to appoint independent counsels or special prosecutors to investigate the role Vice President Al Gore and other senior Clinton administration officials played in the controversy. In November 1997 FBI director Louis Freeh wrote a memo recommending the appointment of an independent investigator, which advised Reno: “It is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for appointing an independent counsel.” [232] [233] [234]

Investigations by Republican-led committees in the U.S. Congress were stymied by the inability to compel testimony from many high-level witnesses. Congressional investigators released the names of 94 potential witnesses who had either “fled or pled”—left the United States or asserted their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to provide self-incriminating testimony. [235]

No Clinton administration senior officials were prosecuted in relation to the fundraising controversy. Several of the major figures implicated in the scandal, including those who were prosecuted and received convictions, had longstanding ties to President Clinton or made dozens of visits to the White House during his presidency. [236]

Lippo Group and Riady Family

According to the Washington Post, the Lippo Group was “a giant Indonesian banking and real estate conglomerate” run by Mochtar Riady and his son, James Riady, with ties to Clinton and Little Rock reaching back to 1984. [237]

In January 2001 James pled guilty to what the U.S. Department of Justice called “a felony charge of conspiring to defraud the United States by unlawfully reimbursing campaign donors with foreign corporate funds.” Additionally, the Lippo Bank pled guilty to “86 misdemeanor counts” involving “illegal foreign campaign contributions from 1988 through 1994.” Lippo and James Riady were assessed $8.6 million in fines, at that time the “largest fine in campaign finance history for violating federal election law.” [238]

In June 1998 the Washington Post reported the Riady family and Lippo had given “more than $700,000 to the Democrats between 1991 and 1996, much of which has been returned.” [239]

The federal conviction asserted that Lippo associates had been using money from Lippo’s foreign entities to reimburse U.S. citizens giving federal campaign donations—including donations to the 1992 Clinton Presidential campaign. Purchasing access to federal politicians, achieving Most Favored Nation Status for China, gaining open trade policies for Indonesia and bringing about the normalization of U.S. relations with Vietnam were some of the benefits the Department of Justice asserted Lippo was hoping to attain by funneling illegal foreign money to U.S. politicians. [240]

According to the Post, Riady “made about 20 visits to the White House after Clinton was elected in 1992,” and “met privately with the president three times.” The private visits included one in which “Lippo executive John Huang asked for Clinton’s approval to move from the Commerce Department to the Democratic National Committee” and another where “Riady urged Clinton to push trade with China.” [241]

The Post also noted Lippo’s connection to another controversy tied to the Clintons and Arkansas:

And in 1994, a Lippo subsidiary reportedly paid Webster L. Hubbell $100,000. Hubbell, a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s, had left his Justice Department job in disgrace and was the focus of inquiries by Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr. Starr later started investigating whether the coterie of Clinton friends who paid Hubbell were doing so to buy his silence. [242]

John Huang

John Huang was described by the Washington Post as positioned “at the heart” of the investigations into “fund raising improprieties.” According to the Post: “As a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee in 1996, Huang raised $3.4 million for the party and its campaign, mostly from the Asian American community. The DNC has since returned nearly half of the money, determining that it was improperly raised or came from questionable donors, some of them from overseas.” [243]

Explaining Huang’s background, the Post said he “worked and socialized with a number of friends and associates of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton” and that in 1985, when Clinton was the Arkansas governor, Huang “escorted the Clintons and an Arkansas group at a seminal Asia trade mission.” Before becoming an executive with the Lippo Group, Huang had been an employee of Lippo-connected Worthen Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas. [244]

According to the Wall Street Journal, Huang was working as an official in the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1995 when it was decided during a September 1995 meeting at the White House to move him to a position as a senior fundraiser for the DNC. The Journal reports that President Clinton, Huang, James Riady and “Arkansas businessman Joseph Giroir” were all present at this meeting. Giroir, according the newspaper, was a former chairman of the Rose Law Firm where Hillary Clinton had been a partner, and in April 1993 had formed a business arrangement with the Lippo Group to help it arrange business with “American companies seeking to do business in Indonesia and China.” [245]

According to the Washington Post, Huang “organized the fund-raiser at the Hsi Lai Temple outside Los Angeles, where Vice President Al Gore helped collect $140,000 – most of which has since been returned.” [246] Maria Hsia, described by the New York Times as a “longtime political fund-raiser” for Gore, and by the Washington Post as a one-time close work associate of the Riadys, was convicted in March 2000 for arranging $100,000 in illegal donations, notably arranging for Buddhist monks and nuns at the temple to participate as straw donors to the DNC and then receive reimbursements. [247] [248]

In August 1999, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, Huang pled guilty to a federal felony charge that he “conspired with other employees of the Indonesia-based Lippo Group to make campaign contributions and reimburse employees with corporate funds or with funds from Indonesia.” In exchange for his agreement to continue cooperating with federal investigators, he was sentenced to probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $10,000 fine. [249]

Yah Lin “Charlie” Trie

According to the Washington Post, Trie “became friendly with Clinton in Little Rock, where he ran a Chinese restaurant that Clinton visited frequently.” The Post stated that in 1994 Trie moved to Washington D.C., “opened an office in the Watergate complex and became a Democratic fund-raiser and man about town.” [250]

The Post credits Trie with raising “$640,000 for Clinton’s defense fund and an additional $645,000 for the DNC,” most of it “from illegal foreign sources” and that all of it had to be returned. Trie also arranged a February 1996 invitation to a White House coffee for the chairman of a Chinese government-owned arms trading company. [251]

In November 1999 Trie pled guilty to “violating federal campaign finance laws by making political contributions in someone else’s name and by causing a false statement to be made the FEC.” [252]

Johnny Chung

Johnny Chung made 49 visits to the White House during the Clinton presidency. During one visit he gave a $50,000 check to Margaret Williams, the chief of staff to First Lady Hillary Clinton, and according to a Washington Post report, “Williams accepted the check and passed it along to the DNC, even though federal law bars government employees from accepting campaign contributions on government property.” In total, the Post stated “Chung made 12 personal or corporate donations to the DNC totaling $366,000,” and that the DNC had returned all of it due to concerns about its origins. [253]

The Post quoted a National Security Council official who described Chung as a “hustler” who was using his access to the Clintons to impress Chinese business contacts. [254] In a 1997 interview, Chung stated: “I see the White House is like a subway: You have to put in coins to open gates.” [255]

Chung told Congressional investigators that he had met with two officials from the Chinese military who had given him $300,000, with the understanding that Chung would find a way to give the money to the Democrats for the 1996 campaign. Chung stated that a highly-placed officer in Chinese military intelligence told him the following about Clinton: “We hope to see him re-elected. I will give you 300,000 U.S. dollars. You can give it to the President and the Democratic Party.” [256]

Chung pled guilty to using friends and business associates as straw donors to funnel illegal contributions to the Clinton-Gore 1996 reelection campaign. [257]

Pardons and Commutations

President Clinton granted several controversial pardons and commutations during his last two years in office, with many occurring on January 20, 2001, Clinton’s final day as President.

Marc Rich

Billionaire businessman Marc Rich was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List after he was indicted in 1983 for charges of fraud, racketeering, tax evasion of nearly $48 million ($124 million in 2019 dollars), and trading with Iran during the 444-day Iran hostage crisis (November 1979—January 1981). Rich was facing the possibility of 300 years in prison when he and his business partner Pincus Green fled the United States, eventually settling in Switzerland. According to CBS News, Rich had made a specialty of acting as the intermediary in business deals involving “global trouble spots” and nations facing trade embargoes, such as Iran, Cuba, Libya during the regime of Muammar Khadafi, and South Africa during its apartheid era. [258]

Both men were pardoned by President Clinton on his last day in office. In addition to protecting one of federal law enforcement’s top fugitives from prosecution, the pardons were also controversial because Rich’s ex-wife—Denise Rich—had been a generous donor to political campaigns and other causes connected to the Clintons. [259]

According to CBS News, Denise Rich gave “$201,000 in political donations to the Democratic Party in 2000 as lawyers for the fugitive financier pressed the U.S. government to drop the case.” This proved unsuccessful, so “Rich’s attorneys turned to Mr. Clinton when the Justice Department refused to negotiate.” Ms. Rich gave more in direct assistance to the Clintons: “$450,000 to Mr. Clinton’s presidential library foundation and more than $100,000 to Hillary Clinton‘s Senate campaign.” Adjusted for inflation, the combined total ($751,000) is equal to more than $1.1 million in 2019 dollars. [260]

Multiple federal probes were initiated to investigate the controversy, but no penalties or prosecutions occurred. Denise Rich was called before a Congressional investigation but asserted her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify. [261] [262]

According to CBS: “Bill Clinton also denied any wrongdoing and said he acted on advice by prominent legal experts not connected to the trader.” [263]

Eric Holder, who would later become U.S. Attorney General during the Obama administration, had recommended the pardons. But later, at a Congressional hearing investigating the Rich and Green pardons, Holder said he regretted the decision: “Knowing everything that I know now, I would not have recommended to the president that he grant the pardon.” [264]

Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter sharply criticized the Rich pardon in a February 2001 speech: “I don’t think there is any doubt that some of the factors in his pardon were attributable to his large gifts. In my opinion, that was disgraceful.” [265]

Susan McDougal

On his final day in office, Clinton pardoned his former business associate Susan McDougal. She had been convicted in 1996 for fraud and received additional jail time for contempt of court when she refused to testify to a federal grand jury investigating her business dealings with the Clintons. When she received her pardon, she had already served all sentences related to her various legal troubles and was no longer incarcerated. [266]

Carlos Vignali and Glen Braswell

On his final day in office, Clinton commuted the prison sentence of Carlos Vignali, a convicted cocaine trafficker, and pardoned Glen Braswell, who had been convicted of fraud, perjury, and tax evasion regarding a product he had been promoting as a treatment for baldness. Both men were represented by attorney Hugh Rodham, brother-in-law of President Clinton and brother of First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. [267]

For his assistance, Mr. Rodham received fees of $200,000 each from both Vignali and Braswell, who appear to have had no connection to one another other than their mutual association with Rodham. According to CNN in February 2001, one month after the pardons and ensuing controversy, Mr. Rodham had returned the combined $400,000 ($597,000 in 2019 dollars) to the two men. [268]

Mr. Rodham refused to discuss his role in helping secure the pardons. Asked by CNN to explain why he wasn’t talking, he said: “Because it’s not in anybody’s best interest to do so.” [269]

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had the prior month taken office as the junior U.S. Senator from New York, confirmed her brother had accepted the money, said she “knew nothing about his taking money for his involvement,” and that the situation had left her “very disappointed” and “very disturbed.” [270]

FALN Terrorists

In August 1999 President Clinton offered to commute the prison sentences and promptly end the incarceration of 11 members of the FALN, a Marxist-Leninist Puerto Rican separatist organization that U.S. law enforcement believes is responsible for 130 bombings and six deaths in the U.S. and Puerto Rico during the 1970s through early 1980s. The convicts had each served at least 19 years of their sentences when Clinton made the offer that made them eligible for immediate release. Eight had been serving sentences ranging from 55 to 90 years for various threats of violence, “seditious conspiracy,” and weapons offenses. [271] [272] [273]

In addition to releasing convicts connected to a terrorist organization decades before they served their full sentences, the commutations were also controversial because First Lady Hillary Clinton had become a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in New York, to be decided at the November 2000 general election. New York is the home to a large Puerto Rican population. Critics from law enforcement and supporters of Hillary Clinton’s likely Republican rival in the political race raised questions as to whether the President was attempting to influence his wife’s election prospects by freeing the Puerto Rican convicts. [274]

Hillary Clinton at first supported the commutations but retracted her support less than a month after the offer was made, stating the convicts had waited too long to renounce violence. President Clinton had made renunciation of violence a condition of accepting the commutation. According to CNN, citing the White House, the convicts were scattered across several correctional institutions, causing a “logistical” problem in arranging their formal acceptance of the conditions of the commutations. [275]

One of the critics of the commutations was U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “Virtually everybody in law enforcement is recommending this clemency be withdrawn,” he said to NBC, during the controversy. “It sends the wrong message at a time when we’re facing more and more terrorism in the world.” [276]

Clinton Foundation

The Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation (also known as the Clinton Foundation and originally named the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation) is a global philanthropic organization created and run by former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their daughter, liberal pundit Chelsea Clinton. [277] The organization focuses on advancing a number of left-leaning policy items including global access to healthcare[278] and helping foreign and domestic governments respond to climate change by implementing alternative energy policies. [279]

Since 2001, the Foundation has raised over $2 billion from a global network of corporate executives, political donors, foreign governments and other wealthy interests. [280] During Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy in 2016, the foundation was a focal point of criticism due to the fact that its fundraising efforts often intersected with Hillary Clinton’s official duties as Secretary of State. [281] While serving as Secretary of State, Clinton met with representatives of at least 16 foreign governments that donated as much as $170 million to the Clinton Foundation. [282] Additionally, an Associated Press analysis found that 85 of 154 people outside government with private interests who met or spoke to Clinton while she was in office had contributed a combined $156 million to the Foundation. [283]

Critics also focused on the fact that the foundation failed to live up to a number of transparency promises that the Clintons had made as part of Hillary’s Secretary of State confirmation. The foundation did not provide complete transparency of its donors, failed to disclose large donations with conflicted donors and foreign governments, and the Clinton Health Initiative spin-off entity did not provide a donor list or vet its donors as required. [284]

The foundation was also criticized as a perceived political backdoor that allowed donors, including corporate and foreign donors prohibited by law from making campaign contributions, to curry favor with the Clinton family while Hillary Clinton during served as Secretary of State and as the prospective Democratic Party nominee for president. [285] Half of the donors to the pro-Hillary Ready for Hillary Super PAC gave at least $10,000 to the Clinton Foundation[286] and the foundation has employed a number of individuals who also serve Hillary’s political apparatus, such as Clinton fundraiser Dennis Cheng[287] and Clinton “attack dog” Sidney Blumenthal. [288]

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