Hillary Clinton’s response to a New York Times report that she overruled her presidential campaign manager and retained a senior adviser accused of sexual harassment is only subjecting her to more criticism from the left.
Clinton, in a series of tweets Friday evening, did not mention her protection of longtime friend and then-faith adviser Burns Strider, and she declared she was proud of his victim, a campaign staffer, for coming forward.
“I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard,” Clinton wrote.
Regarding the Strider matter in 2007, during Clinton’s first run for the White House, Clinton said she was “dismayed when it occurred, but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed.”
However, the New York Times, citing four sources, found that Clinton didn’t take the accusations as seriously as her campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle, who wanted to fire Strider.
Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus chastised Clinton for her response.
Marcus wrote that the Strider affair and its aftermath “classically, infuriatingly … exposes, once again, the trademark Clinton failure to take personal responsibility; the allergy to owning up to error; the refusal to cede any ground, no less apologize; the incessant double-standarding, with different, more forgiving rules for the Clintons and their loyalists.”
The woman accused Strider – who was providing Clinton with Bible readings each morning via email – of ongoing harassment, including inappropriately rubbing her shoulders, kissing her on the forehead and sending her suggestive emails.
But Clinton decided to retain Strider as her faith adviser position, requiring only that he get counseling and lose a few weeks of pay.
The presidential candidate’s staff, meanwhile, reassigned the victim and made her sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Buzzfeed further reported Saturday night that not only was Strider not fired, “he thrived” after Clinton’s campaign, landing a senior role at a super PAC preparing for her next presidential bid, David Brock’s Correct the Record.
In that job, Buzzfeed reported, Strider “exhibited the same kinds of inappropriate behavior toward women who worked there, particularly two young female subordinates.”
Strider admitted to harassing the Clinton staffer in an interview with Buzzfeed on Saturday and said he sought out his own therapist after the incident. The campaign, he said, then followed up to ensure he was complying with the counseling requirement.
Doyle confirmed Monday to CNN that she decided Strider should be fired but was overruled by Clinton.
“The incident was brought to my attention and, you know, I did my due diligence,” Doyle said.
She said that after interviewing the parties involved and examining the evidence, she “came to the conclusion that there was sexual harassment involved; that the young woman was very credible.”
Doyle was asked why Clinton has not admitted that she made a mistake.
“You know, I don’t know,” Doyle replied. “I was disappointed by that tweet, that response.
“It was the wrong call. I wish she had said, you know, ‘having to do it over I would have fired him.'”
CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked Doyle whether or not allowing Strider to suffer no serious consequences “gave him a platform to then go on and harass other women.”
“Yes,” Doyle replied, “I mean I feel a great deal of regret that I didn’t fight harder, I didn’t push harder for him to be fired.”
Amid the controversy over the weekend, Clinton made a cameo appearance in a comedy sketch at the Grammy Awards Sunday night, reading an excerpt of Michael Wolff’s bestseller “Fire and Fury,” which has been discredited by many of its sources, about why Trump eats at McDonald’s.
On Friday, a brief video posted on Twitter by Huffington Post commentator Alex Mohajer showed Clinton give a shout-out to feminists, directing her thoughts to “activist bitches supporting bitches.”
Strider: Hillary’s ‘works and deeds’
Clinton was first briefed about the complaint against Strider in mid-November 2007, just two weeks before this reporter interviewed Strider at a presidential candidates’ event at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Southern California at which Clinton delivered an address.
Strider, who identified himself as a Clinton senior adviser and her national director of faith-based outreach, spoke with WND just before Clinton divulged personal insights about her Christian faith to a largely evangelical audience at the Forest Park, California megachurch.
Strider said that in his personal experience, he found Clinton’s faith in Jesus Christ to be genuine.
“What I find and know about the senator is very real and very honest,” he said. “You know, there’s a life of works and deeds.”
Strider told WND there’s “an amazing connection there between what Senator Clinton believes and the way she carries it out. I do find it authentic.”
Strider, raised a Southern Baptist in the Mississippi Delta, previously served as policy director for the House Democratic Caucus and did “faith outreach” for the House Democratic Caucus under then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The Washington Post’s Marcus suggested Saturday an expression of shame would have been an appropriate response by Clinton to the disclosure that she downplayed accusations of sexual harassment by a close adviser.
But Clinton, Marcus said, is incapable of such a response.
The columnist suggested what Clinton should have said:
One of my 2008 campaign advisers behaved inappropriately, possibly even illegally, toward a subordinate. Thankfully, the young woman who was the victim of this unacceptable behavior had the strength to come forward and complain about it. Unfortunately, we failed her. I failed her. When this matter was brought to my attention, I was concerned that something like this could happen on my watch. I made the decision that docking the abuser’s pay and sending him to counseling would be an adequate response. In retrospect, that was the wrong call, and I am sorry for not taking stronger action.
“Imagine that Hillary Clinton,” Marcus wrote. “She doesn’t exist.”
In a November interview with the Washington Post, Clinton deflected questions about her husband’s sex scandals, which span three decades, insisting sexual harassment can be found “everywhere.”
Some of her husband’s accusers also have charged that she aided and abetted his abuse by threatening his victims in an effort to quell the political fallout from what her ally and friend Betsey Wright termed “bimbo eruptions.”
Clinton’s initial response to the New York Times story was to deploy the law firm that represented her 2008 campaign, Utrecht, Kleinfeld, Fiori, Partners, to issue a statement that simply claimed the campaign’s policies were followed.
“To ensure a safe working environment, the campaign had a process to address complaints of misconduct or harassment,” the statement said. “When matters arose, they were reviewed in accordance with these policies, and appropriate action was taken. This complaint was no exception.”
Writing in The Atlantic last week, Megan Garber observed that the “contours” of the Strider matter were “extremely familiar,” with the man accused of sexual harassment remaining in place while the woman who made the accusations was forced to move.
Garber noted Clinton used her law firm to deliver a response several steps removed from her “with the clinical language of corporate callousness.”
“So while it was Clinton, the manager, the Times report goes, who made the decision to keep Strider on her team, Clinton, the manager, is notably absent from today’s explanation of things,” Garber wrote. “She has outsourced her own decision-making, it seems, to discussions of process and policies — the same anonymous structures that so many other managers have relied on for legal, and moral, insulation.”
Everybody should be believed
The “#MeToo” movement that began last fall with sexual assault allegations against Hollywood kingpin Harvey Weinstein – a close friend of Hillary Clinton and a major donor – has brought more scrutiny to the allegations against Bill Clinton, who has been accused of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment by women dating to the 1970s. The most serious accusation was brought by Juanita Broaddrick, who alleges that in 1978, Clinton raped her when he was Arkansas attorney general.
Bill Clinton, after repeatedly lying about his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, was forced to admit it after evidence, the infamous blue dress, was presented.
He has been accused by Paula Jones of exposing himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room in 1991, which resulted in an out-of-court lawsuit settlement. Kathleen Willey accused him of groping her in 1993 in the Oval Office, where she was a volunteer aide.
The allegations returned to the spotlight during Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign when Republican candidate Donald Trump held a press conference featuring Broaddrick, Jones and Willey.
Buzzfeed observed Saturday that Clinton “has not been especially vocal about the #MeToo wave of sexual misconduct allegations” and “has a complicated public relationship with the changing expectations for how claims of sexual harassment and abuse are handled.”
During her 2016 campaign, she tweeted that every victim of sexual assault had “the right to be believed,” which drew a question from a woman at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire.
Should the women who had accused her husband of sexual harassment and assault be believed?
“Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence,” Clinton replied.