WASHINGTON — Juanita Broaddrick, the Arkansas woman who told a
nationwide television audience she was raped by Bill Clinton, filed suit
yesterday, accusing the president’s office and Justice Department of
conducting a campaign to “smear and destroy her reputation.”
The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court, is the first legal
action Broaddrick has taken since she was interviewed by NBC News earlier this
year regarding her allegations of sexual assault, according to her
lawyer, Judicial Watch Chairman Larry Klayman.
Broaddrick charges Clinton raped her while serving as Arkansas
attorney general in 1978.
Klayman, whose Judicial Watch has filed several lawsuits against the
Clinton White House, said that the administration’s action is a
violation of existing privacy laws.
Broaddrick’s suit requests that the White House and Justice
Department be ordered to produce any records related to her and to stop “unlawfully
disseminating information from Plaintiff’s FBI and/or government files.”
“We want to find out what information they have on her in violation
of the Privacy Act and how she’s been damaged by that information,” Klayman
said. “We know based on the Filegate lawsuit that the White House keeps
files of perceived adversaries and critics.”
“Filegate” refers to a disclosure that the Clinton White House
improperly maintained possession of approximately 700 FBI background
files, including the files of many prominent political opponents.
Broaddrick wrote the White House Oct. 12 seeking documents related to
her. That request was denied by the White House, according to documents
filed with the lawsuit.
But Associate White House Counsel Meredith E. Cabe replied in an Oct.
27 letter that federal laws involving disclosure “apply only to records
maintained by ‘agencies’ within the Executive Branch.”
“The President’s immediate personal staff and units in the Executive
Office of the President whose sole function is to advise and assist the
President are not included with the term ‘agency’ under the FOIA and
Privacy Act,” she wrote. Thus, Cabe concluded, Broaddrick does not have
a statutory right to the records, “if such records exist.”
Klayman disputes the White House’s legal position. He says the
administration has acknowledged in the past it is subject to the
provisions of federal laws and that a recent ruling by U.S. District
Judge Royce C. Lamberth in the FBI files matter supports that position.
A public opinion poll by Zogby International last March showed most
Americans either believe Clinton is guilty of the rape of Juanita
Broaddrick in 1978, or say that more information is needed to make a
true judgment. Few respondents believed Clinton’s denial. In the poll,
Zogby questioned 908 likely voters and found that those who have made a
decision about the alleged assault believe Broaddrick’s allegations by a
margin of 2-1.
Last week, the Broaddrick allegation entered the presidential
election race as Vice President Al Gore was questioned by a New Hampshire
resident on national television about his view of the charge.
“After seeing scandals in Washington, my question to you is not a
question about the man, or the presidential candidate, but a question to
you as a husband, as a father and as a student of Christianity,” said
Katherine Prudhomme, a former Democrat now supporting Sen. John McCain.
“When Juanita Broaddrick made the claim, that I felt credible, that she
was raped by Bill Clinton, did that change your opinion about him being
one of the best presidents in history? And do you believe Juanita
Broaddrick’s claim? And what did you tell your son about this?”
Gore spent several uncomfortable minutes trying to answer the
He claimed not to have seen the NBC News interview.
The White House had no comment on the suit.