Bill Clinton sexual misconduct allegations
Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States (1993–2001), has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct by three women: Juanita Broaddrick accuses Clinton of raping her in 1978; Kathleen Willey accuses Clinton of groping her without consent in 1993; and Paula Jones accuses Clinton of exposing himself to her in 1991 and sexually harassing her. The Jones allegations became public in 1994, while Willey's and Broaddrick's became public during the 1998–99 time period, toward the end of Clinton's second term as president.
Clinton has adamantly denied all three of these sexual misconduct accusations. Through his representatives, Clinton has responded to the allegations by attempting to discredit the credibility of the accusers, noting that (in the case of Broaddrick and Willey) they previously testified, under oath, that Clinton never made unwanted advances. Several witnesses close to Willey and Jones state that the two women described their encounter with Clinton as consensual.
In addition to the three allegations of sexual misconduct, many other women claim to have had consensual adulterous liaisons with Clinton. Of all the allegations made against him regarding his sexual history, Clinton has only admitted extramarital relationships with Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers. However, some commentators characterize Clinton's affair with White House intern Lewinsky as sexual misconduct or harassment because of the vast power imbalance between a president and an intern, even though at the time Lewinsky described the relationship as completely consensual. In 2018, Lewinsky herself began to question her longstanding view that her relationship with Clinton had been consensual, characterizing the relationship as a “gross abuse of power” wherein the power differential between the two was so great that “consent might well be rendered moot.”
Charges of sexual misconduct on Clinton's part regained publicity during the 2016 presidential campaign of his wife, Hillary Clinton. A lewd recording of Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump, discussing the ability to grope women when one is in power, was released during the campaign, which brought into light Bill Clinton's accusers. Broaddrick, Willey, and Jones reemerged into the public sphere as critics of Hillary Clinton, accusing her of enabling her husband's alleged sexual assaults. They appeared as guests at the second 2016 presidential debate and referenced Bill Clinton in pre-debate statements.
During the 1990s, most Democrats suspended judgment on the three accusations or stated that they believed Clinton's denials. In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations in 2017 and the many other such cases that soon emerged, the allegations against Clinton were revisited and lent more credibility than before..
In a 1999 episode of Dateline NBC, former Bill Clinton volunteer Juanita Broaddrick alleged that, in the late 1970s, Clinton raped her in her hotel room. According to Broaddrick, she agreed to meet with Clinton for coffee in the lobby of her hotel, but Clinton asked if they could go to her room to avoid a crowd of reporters; she agreed. Once Clinton had isolated her in her hotel room, Broaddrick states that he raped her. Broaddrick stated Clinton injured her lip by biting it during the assault. In 1999, Clinton denied Broaddrick's allegations through his lawyer.
Supporters of Clinton have questioned her account by noting that, when Broaddrick testified about her alleged encounter with Clinton under oath, she denied having been raped by him. In her NBC interview alleging rape, Broaddrick stated that she had only denied being raped under oath to protect her privacy. Supporters of Clinton have also noted that she continued to support him, and appear at public events on his behalf, weeks after the alleged rape, and that Broaddrick stated that she couldn't remember the day or month the alleged incident occurred. Broaddrick has stated in 1978 that she revealed the alleged assault to five intimates, and that they advised her not to cause trouble for herself by going public.
According to Paula Jones' account, on May 8, 1991, she was escorted to Clinton's hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her. She claimed she kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when a David Brock story in the American Spectator magazine printed an account. In 1994, Jones filed a federal lawsuit against Clinton, alleging sexual harassment. In the discovery stage of the suit, Jones's lawyers had the opportunity to question Clinton under oath about his sexual history; in the course of this testimony, Clinton denied having had a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky, a denial that (once his affair with Lewinsky was exposed) would lead to his impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice.
Several witnesses disputed Jones's account, including her sister and brother-in-law. These witnesses contended that she had described her encounter with Clinton as "happy" and "gentle". In addition, Jones had claimed to friends that Clinton had a particular deformity on his penis, a claim that was revealed to be false by investigators.
In April 1998, the case was dismissed by Republican Judge Susan Webber Wright as lacking legal merit. But Jones appealed Webber Wright's ruling, and her suit gained traction following Clinton's admission to having an affair with Monica Lewinsky in August 1998. (This admission indicated that Clinton may have lied under oath when he testified, in the Jones case, that he had never had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky.)
On appeal, in the midst of his trial for impeachment based on his testimony in the Jones case, Clinton was faced with the prospect of having to go under oath again and testify more about his sexual history. Instead, Clinton agreed to an out-of-court settlement, paying Jones and her lawyers $850,000 to drop the suit; the vast majority of this money was used to pay Jones's legal fees. Clinton's lawyer said that the president made the settlement only so he could end the lawsuit for good and move on with his life.
Linda Tripp, the Clinton Administration staffer who secretly taped her phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky in order to expose the latter's affair with the President, testified under oath that Willey's sexual contact with President Clinton in 1993 was consensual, that Willey had been flirting with the President, and that Willey was happy and excited following her 1993 encounter with Clinton. Six other friends of Willey confirmed Tripp's account in sworn testimony, stating that Willey had sought a sexual relationship with the President. Ken Starr, who had deposed Willey in the course of investigating the sexual history of President Clinton, determined that she had lied under oath repeatedly to his investigators. Starr and his team therefore concluded that there was insufficient evidence to pursue her allegations further.
In 2007 Willey published a book about her experiences with the Clintons.
Gloria Steinem and Joy Behar controversies
In a 1998 op-ed for the New York Times, feminist icon Gloria Steinem said of Willey and Jones, "Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection." Generally dismissive of other women who came forward with tales of Bill Clinton, her piece exemplified a certain kind of reflexive feminist defense of Clinton. It received some criticism when it was published. But then with the passage of time, as evidenced in 2017 by the words of The Atlantic, Steinem's essay had become "notorious" in that "It slut-shamed, victim-blamed, and age-shamed; it urged compassion for and gratitude to the man the women accused."
Two decades after most of the events in question, on the U.S. television program The View, co-host Joy Behar referred to Bill Clinton's accusers as "tramps". Behar apologized for the sexual slur shortly afterwards.
2016 presidential election
Broaddrick's allegations resurfaced early in the campaign. In various media interviews, Broaddrick stated that Clinton raped her and that Hillary Clinton knew about it, and tried to threaten Broaddrick into remaining silent. She said that she started giving some interviews in 2015 because Hillary Clinton's statement that victims of sexual assault should be believed angered her. From early on in the campaign Jones supported the eventual Republican nominee.
Then in October 2016, an Access Hollywood recording of Clinton's opponent, Donald Trump, having a lewd conversation in which he jokes about groping women was released during the campaign, and he attempted to deflect the issue by citing Clinton's accusers. The three women reiterated their allegations against Bill Clinton in a press conference before the second presidential debate and said that Hillary had enabled him. In reference to the Access Hollywood recording, Willey pronounced herself an outright supporter of Hillary's opponent, Broaddrick said that the actions of the Clintons were worse than the words of the opponent, and Jones said the focus should remain on Bill Clinton.
2017–2018: the allegations reconsidered
By late 2017, the allegations against Clinton and his standing within the Democratic Party were being reconsidered. This was prompted as a result of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, which quickly triggered the Weinstein effect and the #MeToo phenomenon, with as a consequence liberals and feminists reconsidering their lack of support for the alleging women at the time. Michelle Goldberg wrote that Broaddrick's allegations meant that "Bill Clinton no longer has a place in decent society."
Sitting U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who had succeeded Hillary Clinton in the Senate, went so far as to say Clinton should have resigned the presidency over his misconduct. A HuffPost/YouGov survey found that 53 percent of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election believed that the accusations against Bill Clinton were credible, while 83 percent of Trump voters found the accusations credible.
When asked in 2018 whether he would have approached the sexual misconduct allegations differently in the wake of the #MeToo movement, Clinton said that he would not. Asked if he owed Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern whom he had sexual relations with, a personal apology, he said that he did not.
Several books have been published related to these incidents. These include:
- High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton (1998) by Ann Coulter
- No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton (1999) by Christopher Hitchens
- The Hunting of the President (2000) by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons
- Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine (2005) by Candice E. Jackson
- Matthews, Dylan (October 9, 2016). "The sexual harassment allegations against Bill Clinton, explained".
- Schmidt, Susan (November 1, 1998). "Starr Probing Willey Allegations". The Washington Post.
- Graves, Florence; Sharkey, Jacqueline E. (April 29, 1999). "Starr and Willey: The Untold Story". The Nation.
- Antle, W. James III. "Liberals 'move on' from defending Bill Clinton's sexual conduct". WashingtonExaminer.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- "Monica Lewinsky: Emerging From the House of Gaslight in the Age of #metoo". vanityfair.com.
- Tumulty, Karen; Mettler, Katie (November 17, 2017). "Abuse allegations have revived scrutiny of Bill Clinton — and divided Democrats". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 19, 2017. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Flanagan, Caitlin. "Bill Clinton: A Reckoning". TheAtlantic.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2017. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- "Are Democrats about to turn on Bill Clinton?". CNN.com. Archived from the original on November 19, 2017. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Romano, Lois; Baker, Peter (February 20, 1999). "Another Clinton Accuser Goes Public". Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016.
- "Clinton Accuser's Story Aired". The Washington Post. March 14, 1999. Retrieved April 26, 2010.
- Matthews, Dylan (January 6, 2016). "The rape allegation against Bill Clinton, explained".
- Clinton v. Jones, No. 95-1853 U.S. (May 27, 1997).
- Tiersma, Peter. "The Language of Perjury", languageandlaw.org, November 20, 2007
- "Clinton Welcomes Jones Decision; Appeal Likely". CNN. April 2, 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- "Text of Jones's Appeal". The Washington Post. July 31, 1998. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
- "Appeals court ponders Paula Jones settlement". CNN. November 18, 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- Baker, Peter (November 14, 1998). "Clinton Settles Paula Jones Lawsuit for $850,000". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
- "The Starr Report". www.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
- "The Lives Of Kathleen Willey". CNN. March 30, 1998. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
- Clines, Francis X. (March 14, 1998). "Testing of a President: The Accuser; Jones Lawyers Issue Files Alleging Clinton Pattern of Harassment of Women". The New York Times. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
The Presidential deposition released today confirmed several revelations reported earlier, including Mr. Clinton's confirmation... that he had had sex with Gennifer Flowers, a one-time Arkansas worker.
- Willey, Kathleen (November 6, 2007). "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton". WND Books, an imprint of World Ahead Media – via Amazon.
- Tumulty, Karen; Mettler, Katie (November 17, 2017). "Abuse allegations have revived scrutiny of Bill Clinton — and divided Democrats". Retrieved November 19, 2017 – via www.WashingtonPost.com.
- Foer, Franklin (April 19, 1998). "Feminism, Clinton, and Harassment". Retrieved November 19, 2017 – via Slate.
- Flanagan, Caitlin. "Bill Clinton: A Reckoning". TheAtlantic.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- "October 10, 2016 Episode of The View". Youtube.com. October 10, 2016. pp. 21:04 Minutes:Seconds and 22:00. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- "The View host Joy Behar apologises for calling Bill Clinton accusers "tramps" on TV after sparking backlash". Mirror (UK). October 12, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- "Joy Behar sorry for calling Bill Clinton accusers 'tramps' on 'The View'". FoxNews.com. October 11, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
- "October 11, 2016 Episode - The View". YouTube. October 11, 2016. pp. 0:36 Minutes:Seconds. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- Ian Tuttle (January 20, 2016). "Juanita Broaddrick Still Haunts Hillary Clinton". National Review. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
- "Are Democrats about to turn on Bill Clinton?". CNN.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Goldberg, Michelle (November 13, 2017). "I Believe Juanita". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
- "Gillibrand: Bill Clinton should have resigned over Lewinsky affair". amp.News4Jax.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
- Savransky, Rebecca (November 16, 2017). "Poll: Majority of Hillary Clinton voters think Bill Clinton allegations 'credible'". The Hill. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
- "Bill Clinton: I wouldn't have done anything differently with Lewinsky affair". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-06-04.