A woman at a New Hampshire campaign event Thursday asked Hillary Clinton about rape and sexual harassment allegations against Bill Clinton. The questioner pointed out that Clinton has said assault survivors have “the right to be believed.” It was as awkward as you’d expect.
Since the day Clinton got in the race, it’s been obvious that sooner or later someone would ask about Bill. (Monica Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair last year that she became “reclusive” during Clinton’s 2008 campaign, and was tempted to go back underground in 2016: “And recently I’ve found myself gun-shy yet again, fearful of “becoming an issue” should she decide to ramp up her campaign.”)
The drumbeat got especially loud in September, after Clinton told assault survivors in a speech they have the right to be heard and believed.
At a campaign stop in Hooksett, New Hampshire, an audience member contrasted Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual offenses with that sentiment.
“Secretary Clinton, you recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed,” she asked. “But would you say that Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones be believed as well?”
“Well, I would say that everyone should be believed at first,” Clinton replied. “Until they are disbelieved based on evidence.” She smiled broadly and moved onto the next question, to applause.
Broaddrick claimed in 1999 that Clinton had raped her in 1978, during his campaign for Arkansas governor, while Kathleen Willey is a former White House aide who said Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1993, during his first term as president. Paula Jones sued Clinton for sexual harassment, saying he “exposed himself” to her in 1991. The suit that was dismissed before trial; Clinton did, however, later pay an $850,000 settlement, although he did not admit any fault or apologize as part of the deal. His lawyer’s told the Post he agreed to the payment to put the matter behind him permanently.