A brief guide to Clinton scandals from Travelgate to Emailgate
By WASHINGTON EXAMINER STAFF • 5/17/16 9:20 AM
Hillary Clinton entered the presidential race under a cloud of scandal, from foreign contributions to the Clinton family foundation to her use of a private email account and server to conduct official business while secretary of state. But she and her husband are no strangers to scandal.
There often seemed to be no end of the scandals during President Bill Clinton’s two terms in the White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for the Senate starting in 2000 and the Oval Office in 2008. Political experts began diagnosing “Clinton Fatigue” long ago.
Trapped in a primary fight that has dragged on far longer than expected, Hillary Clinton has struggled to escape the perception that she is part of the corrupt old guard of the Democratic Party. Her likely general election opponent, Donald Trump, has already begun to hammer the former secretary of state for the misdeeds of her past.
Hillary Clinton may become America’s first woman in the Oval Office despite the heavy baggage of her last name, but the scandals will surely play a dominant role in the 2016 presidential race.
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To help readers keep track of them all, herewith is a list of significant Clinton scandals over the years. It is by no means a comprehensive list. The Washington Examiner will update this list as needed in the months ahead.
Soon after her husband became president in 1993, first lady Hillary Clinton allegedly engineered the firing of seven employees of the White House travel office and the hiring of a firm with ties to the Clintons to replace them. Multiple investigations absolved the president of involvement but Hillary Clinton was found to have made false statements to investigators.
When first lady Hillary Clinton convened her task force to create her husband’s national healthcare program, it included multiple representatives from government, the health and insurance industries and academics. Despite the obvious potential for conflicts of interest in closed deliberations, the task force’s meetings were kept secret throughout its existence.
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In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bill and Hillary Clinton were associates of Jim and Susan McDougal in the Whitewater Development Corp., an Arkansas real estate investment firm that went under when McDougal’s Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan was closed by federal regulators for illegal accounting. Taxpayers lost $73 million due to Guaranty. The Clintons lost an estimated $67,000 on their investment, but McDougal helped pay off Bill Clinton’s campaign debts, and Hillary Clinton’s law firm received an unknown sum in fees for representing a Guaranty project that also failed.
Hundreds of FBI background files on officials in previous Republican presidential administrations were improperly given in 1993 and 1994 to Craig Livingstone, the director of White House security who was a Hillary Clinton favorite. No illegal activity was ever proven, and Livingstone ultimately resigned.
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Removing files from Vince Foster’s office
Vince Foster was President Clinton’s deputy White House counsel and long-time friend of Hillary Clinton. He committed suicide in 1993, and his body was found in a park just across the Potomac River from the White House. Files were also allegedly removed from his White House office before investigators were able to secure it as part of the official probe into his death.
Lost Rose Law Firm billing records
Congressional and Justice Department investigators began issuing subpoenas in 1994 for Hillary Clinton’s billing records as a partner in the Rose law firm at the center of the Whitewater scandal. She said her role was incidental, but when the records mysteriously turned up in the White House in 1996, they showed she met repeatedly with key figures in the scandal.
Commerce Department’s “pay to play” junkets
Seats on Commerce Department international trade missions were sold to corporate figures in return for big contributions to President Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, who was reported to have opposed the scheme, died when one of the missions crashed in Croatia, leading independent counsel Daniel Pearson to leave his investigation unfinished.
Renting Lincoln Bedroom
More than 800 people stayed overnight in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House during President Bill Clinton’s tenure. At least $5.4 million in campaign contributions from many of those guests went into Clinton’s re-election effort. Among the paying guests were movie producer Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks SKG head David Geffen and long-time Hollywood powerhouse Lew Wasserman.
A close associate of Indonesian industrialist James Riady, Huang initially was appointed deputy secretary of commerce in 1993. By 1995, however, he moved to the Democratic National Committee where he generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions from foreign sources. Huang later pleaded guilty to one felony count of campaign finance violations.
Like John Huang, Trie raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions from foreign sources to Democratic campaign entities. He was a regular White House visitor and arranged meetings of foreign operators with Clinton, including one who was a Chinese arms dealer. His $450,000 contribution to Clinton’s legal defense fund was returned after it was found to have been largely funded by Asian interests. Trie was convicted of violating campaign finance laws in 1998.
Gave more than $366,000 to the Democratic National Committee prior to the 1996 campaign, but it was returned after officials learned it came from illegal foreign sources. Chung later told a special Senate committee investigating 1996 Clinton campaign fund-raising that $35,000 of his contributions came from individuals in Chinese intelligence. Chung pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
No controlling legal authority
Then-Vice President Al Gore repeated the phrase “there is no controlling legal authority” at least seven times during a news conference called to explain his multiple telephone calls from the White House to solicit contributions to the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign in 1996. In fact, the law was and remains clear that partisan campaign contributions cannot be solicited on or using federal property.
Monica Lewinsky and impeachment
President Clinton became only the second chief executive ever impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 after being found guilty of obstructing justice and committing perjury in connection with a grand jury investigation of his sexual relationship in the White House with intern Monica Lewinsky. He remained in office, however, after the Senate failed to convict him. When the news of the Lewinsky scandal broke, Hillary famously blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.”
Shortly before leaving the Oval Office, Bill Clinton issued a number of controversial pardons for controversial individuals represented by lawyers with ties to the administration. The most controversial wasconvicted tax evader Marc Rich who was pardoned after his former wife made big contributions to the Clinton presidential library and to Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign.
The Bosnia airport sniper lie
During her unsuccessful 2008 campaign for the Democratic presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton claimed to have come under sniper fire during her arrival as first lady at an airport in Bosnia in 1996. She recanted her claim after CBS News broadcast video of the arrival that demonstrated there was no sniper fire.
Hillary Clinton sat atop the State Department when the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked by a terrorist group on Sept. 11, 2012. But the former secretary of state was quick to blame the violence on protesters responding to an anti-Muslim video clip. Subsequent evidence has suggested the administration knew almost immediately that the raid was planned and executed by Islamic extremists, prompting former House Speaker John Boehner to form a select committee to investigate the response to the attack in 2014. Clinton sat for an 11-hour hearing before the select committee in October 2015 and denied knowingly spreading false talking points about the attack. However, emails revealed during the hearing suggest Clinton told her daughter, Chelsea, the Benghazi compound was overrun by terrorists before she ever addressed the public about the controversial YouTube clip.
The email scandal
Hillary Clinton’s decision to set up a private server at her Chappaqua home has dogged her presidential campaign since before it even began. The former secretary of state said she established the personal email network for the convenience of carrying one device and failed to address the discovery that she carried at least two different devices throughout her tenure. In June 2015, a federal judge ordered the State Department to release all 30,000 of Clinton’s emails on a rolling basis at the end of each month until January 2016. More than 2,000 of those emails were deemed classified. In August 2015, the FBI seized her private server from a warehouse in New Jersey and began looking into allegations that Clinton mishandled sensitive intelligence.
Following her departure from the State Department, Hillary Clinton joined her husband on the paid speaking circuit. The two raked in six-figure sums for each appearance, criss-crossing the country for events with special interests groups and Wall Street firms. Hillary Clinton faced pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders to release the transcripts from her speeches to Goldman Sachs and other financial titans after she began running on a platform to rein in the same institutions that had paid her millions of dollars directly. She has thus far refused to provide transcripts, arguing she should not be held to a different standard than any other politician who has been paid for speaking at a private event.
The Clinton Foundation
Bill Clinton’s namesake charity has fallen under scrutiny over the past year after the public learned how extensively it accepted foreign donations from corporations and governments with interests before Hillary Clinton’s desk at the State Department. A prominent charity watchdog removed the foundation from its registry last year, and the charity was later forced to refile its tax returns after reporters discovered major donations had been omitted. Critics have accused the Clintons of using their philanthropic network to benefit themselves politically and financially.
This article was originally published by Mark Tapscott on April 12, 2015, and was updated by Sarah Westwood on May 17, 2016.