I thought Spouses were supposed to be Off Limits on this Campaign

Ever since the dustup between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over their spouses, I thought that Presidential spouses were off limits. You know, the one where someone posted a sexy picture of his wife Melania and he responded by tweeting the most unflattering picture of Heidi Cruz that he could find.

Well, when it comes to spouses being off limits, that clearly does not apply to Bill Clinton.

Trump has gone on record calling Bill Clinton a rapist.

Okay, so let’s acknowledge the obvious, that Bill Clinton’s record of behavior with women is pretty awful. His infidelity was one of his major character flaws, and almost completely undid his presidency in the Lewinsky scandal. Some of the allegations against him have, of course, been much worse.

Bill Clinton’s Record

When we look at Bill Clinton’s behavior with women, we have to divide it up between the clearly consensual, and the cases where nonconsensual contact was alleged. The clearly consensual include:

  • Gennifer Flowers, a former model who claimed to have had a 12-year relationship with Clinton.[1]
  • Monica Lewinsky, the famous former intern who had at least sexual relations of the oral kind with Clinton in the White House.
  • Elizabeth Ward Gracen, a former Miss Arkansas and Miss America claimed she had a one night stand with Clinton in 1982.
  • Dolly Kyle Browning, a former high school classmate, claimed to have been his mistress while Bill was already married to Hillary.
  • Sally Perdue, another former Miss Arkansas, said she had a four-month affair with Bill in 1983.
  • Lencola Sullivan, another former Miss Arkansas and fourth runner-up in the Miss America pageant, claimed to have a sexual relationship of some kind with Clinton.

The clearly nonconsensual allegations involve:

  • Paula Jones, a former clerical employee with the Arkansas state government, who alleged that Clinton, while Governor, had Jones “escorted to room in the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her.” The resulting civil suit for sexual harassment was complicated by the fact that Clinton was President and questions about whether he was immune from prosecution.[2]
  • Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer aide who alleged on 60 Minutes that Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted her on November 29, 1993, during his first term as President.
  • Juanita Broaddrick, Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator from Arkansas, who alleged in 1999 that Bill Clinton had raped her back in 1978 while campaigning for Governor of Arkansas.

The most troubling of these allegations is those of Juanita Broaddrick, with Kathleen Willey close behind. The problem with the allegations is two-fold: first, they never led to any charges being filed, and that both women undercut their credibility seriously in a number of ways.

So Broaddrick, for example, filed an affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying any sexual contact between her and Clinton. She subsequently contradicted her affidavit several years later and allowed herself to be interviewed by NBC’s Lisa Meyers after Clinton had already been acquitted in his impeachment trial.

Willey also undercut her credibility in significant ways. Among other things, she (1) lied to the FBI during their investigation about her relationship with a former boyfriend,[3] (2) her deposition testimony in the Paula Jones case differed substantially from her grand jury testimony, and (3) she led Linda Tripp to believe that she was deliberately pursuing a romantic relationship with Clinton.

None of this proves, of course, that these women were not assaulted by Bill Clinton. But it also doesn’t prove that they were.

Donald Trump’s Record

If there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black, then it must be Donald Trump accusing another man of sexual improprieties. However appalling Bill Clinton’s legacy of sexual improprieties is, Donald Trump’s is just as bad.

Donald Trump’s record of cheating

I strongly suspect that Donald Trump has cheated on more than one occasion, but if he has, the women who could verify that have not yet come forward. Maybe some will, and maybe they won’t. We still have five months to find out. But one thing is for sure: he cheated on his first wife, the former Ivana Zelnícková with Marla Maples, who became his second wife.[4]

Donald Trump’s record of sexual harassment

A number of people have made sexual harassment allegations against Donald Trump over the years. One of them is actually clearly visible on the Apprentice, where Donald Trump says to contestant Brande Roderick, “it must be a pretty picture seeing you drop to your knees.” You can see it right on YouTube. Highly inappropriate. But that’s hardly the only incident. So, for example:

  • Former Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean described Trump’s requirement that contestants “parade” in front of him before he picked whether they would enter the pageant. “Many of the girls found this exercise humiliating,” according to Prejean. “Some of the girls were sobbing backstage after he left.”
  • Temple Taggart, competing as Miss Utah in the 1997 Miss USA pageant, claimed that Trump greeted by kissing her “directly on the lips,” something she saw him do with other contestants as well. She found it gross.
  • Rowan Brewer Lane, then a 26-year-old model, claims that having been invited to his Mar-a-Lago estate, Trump asked her to put on a bathing suit, and after she did, essentially paraded her in front of other guests proclaiming about her “That is a stunning Trump girl, isn’t it?”[5]

In a different kind of sexual discrimination, a former Donald Trump staffer, 26-year Elizabeth Mae Davidson, accused Trump’s campaign of sex discrimination in pay, saying that that men doing the same job as her on the campaign trail were being paid more money.[6] The Boston Globe later determined that Trump’s campaign paid men on his campaign staff one-third more than women, while Hillary Clinton has compensated men and women equally.

Trump has also famously feuded with people like Rosie O’Donnell, Cher and Megyn Kelly, and is especially vicious when he finds the woman unattractive, as was the case with Rosie O’Donnell.

Allegations against Donald Trump for rape.

Donald Trump has also been accused of rape on more than one occasion. One of his accusers was his ex-wife Ivana.

  • In their 1991 divorce Ivana Trump apparently accused Donald Trump of marital rape.[7] In a 1993 book called Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, author Harry Hurt III paints a scene in which, after a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot, the Donald Trump confronted Ivana, who had previously used the same plastic surgeon, and accused “her” doctor of having “ruined” him. What followed was a “violent assault,” according to the author. The Donald “held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation.” He “tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants and proceeded to rape her.” She allegedly told some of her closest confidants that “he raped me.”[8]
  • In April of 1997 Trump was sued by a woman named Jill Harth Houraney, who says she met Trump in her capacity as a pageant producer organizing international model search events in the early 1990’s. In her complaint she alleged that Trump engaged in hostile and offensive sexual behavior towards her from 1992 to 1997 including “groping” her under her dress on several occasions, “forcibly” moving her to his daughter’s bedroom in an attempt to have sex with her, and repeatedly, aggressively and inappropriately propositioning her for sex. [9] Not even a month after filing the case, Harth withdrew it. The court record indicates it was “voluntarily dismissed” but “without prejudice,” meaning she could have re-filed the case. Around the same time the case was withdrawn, Trump reportedly agreed to settle with her husband’s company, The American Dream Enterprise, which had filed a breach of contract lawsuit in 1995 against Trump.[10]
  • More recently, in April of this year, a woman named Katie Johnson sued the Donald in federal court in California, claiming that back in 2004 she was forced to perform fellatio on the Donald, and that this was in the company of Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who has also been linked to Bill Clinton. Johnson claimed that she and other juveniles were used by Trump as “sex slaves” and that the sexual assaults occurred from June to September 2004 when she was 13; she further indicated that she was enticed by a potential modeling career and cash. Johnson filed her suit pro se – meaning without the benefit of an attorney – and it has apparently been dismissed, which is what often happens to pro se If her allegations are legitimate, it shouldn’t be that hard for her to find an attorney who would want a crack at it. Regardless, the details can be read here.

It’s hard to know what to make of these last two claims. Harth Houraney is, needless to say, a remarkably unreliable witness, sending a message that could not be more confused if she tried. As for Katie Johnson, if true, hers should really be a criminal complaint. The website Heavy reported that “The phone number she lists in the filing is disconnected. It was previously listed as a cell phone number for a California dentist, who could not be reached. Her listed address is a house that has been foreclosed and is vacant. Court documents show that mail sent by the court to Johnson was returned to the sender.”

Trump should be given the same benefit of the doubt as Bill Clinton, and to be frank, for the time being his accusers are even less credible than Clinton’s accusers. Except for his ex-wife Ivana, who is now back in the Trump camp.

Hillary Clinton’s Record

Unlike Bill and the Donald, no one has ever accused Hillary Clinton of sexual improprieties. Oh, some conspiracy theorists have accused her of involvement in the death of Vince Foster, an accusation that has been proven to be baseless time and time again. That is part of the “vast right wing conspiracy” that Hillary has complained about for some time.

So, after the Lewinsky scandal, no one would have blamed Hillary if, when she and Bill departed the White House in January of 2001, she had left Bill behind and filed for divorce. No one would have blamed her.

But she chose not to do that. It’s one of the most fascinating things about Hillary that – given how much embarrassment he caused her, how troublesome the accusations against him by other women have been – that she chose not to do that.

It’s her choice. It’s a private choice and it’s her choice.

Whatever may be true or not true of their sexual compatibility, one thing is undeniably true: Bill and Hillary are immensely compatible intellectually. They are both highly ambitious policy wonks who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they can make the world a better place.

So far as I know, Hillary has said next to nothing about the various women who have either alleged a consensual relationship with Bill, or who have alleged nonconsensual conduct in Bill’s part. I don’t know what she believes about these things, but it’s probably safe to assume that she does not believe that her husband is a rapist. Otherwise, there really would be a problem.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

If there is one candidate out there who shouldn’t be throwing stones about another man’s sexual conduct, that candidate is Donald Trump. If it were Bernie Sanders – a man about whom there has never even been a whiff of sexual misconduct – he might have the moral standing to raise the issue. But not Donald Trump.

Certainly, there are very real and legitimate concerns about Bill Clinton’s conduct in the years up to and including his presidency – there hasn’t been much mention of any sexually-related scandals since – and to the degree that Hillary may have condoned some of that conduct implicitly, it raises (once again) legitimate questions about her judgment. Some of Bill Clinton’s accusers feel that it is hypocritical that she has not supported them. But Bill Clinton is not running for President; Hillary is. And Donald Trump is not the man to be calling the kettle black.

As a recent article on the web pointed out, aside from the allegations made against him directly, Trump has also spoken with a forked tongue in virtually every pronouncement he has ever made relative to rape and sexual harassment.

[1] Clinton himself admitted under oath only to a single encounter with her in 1977. Flowers subsequently also admitted that she had made a total net profit of $500,000 by publicizing her alleged affair with Clinton to Penthouse, Star Magazine and other news sources. Flowers also sued George Stephanopoulos, James Carville and others in 1999 for defamation claiming that they orchestrated a campaign to discredit her. Her case was dismissed by summary judgment in 2004, and that dismissal was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in 2006.

[2] It was the Jones case, where Clinton was deposed under oath and asked about Monica Lewinsky, that led to the attempt to impeach him. Jones had filed a civil case alleging sexual harassment against the President, and it became very complicated, with questions relative to whether aspects of the civil trial had to be delayed until after Clinton was finished with his term as President. In the case of Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), the United States Supreme Court ruled against Clinton that the case could proceed while he was still President, which is how it was that Clinton was deposed. The case was initially dismissed at summary judgment, but an appeal was filed. The Jones team was financed by the Rutherford Institute, and Jones later claimed that she was used as a “political pawn“ by conservative groups to come after the President. After Clinton’s term ended, he decided to settle the case while refusing to admit liability.

[3] The Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute her for false statements, which she ultimately admitted to.

[4] Unlike some others, I don’t hold it against Trump that two of his previous marriages didn’t work out, since that can happen to anyone. I do also note that Trump seems to have maintained good relations with his ex-wives.

[5] This was revealed in a longer New York Times article entitled Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved with Women in Private.

[6] There have also been allegations of assault, sexual harassment piling up against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

[7] The documents are sealed and Ivana herself is the subject of a gag order, so this would be hard to verify.

[8] Ivana Trump now denies that this characterization is accurate and now says that the alleged rape was “not in a criminal sense.” Trump’s own attorney has claimed that you “cannot rape your spouse,” which happens to be false.

[9] In the court document, she said that Trump bragged that he “would be the best lover you ever have.” In addition to her personal accounts, Harth made a litany of other claims against Trump including allegations that he had an adulterous affair, that he retaliated against those who crossed him by making sexually charged allegations and accused him of making “racial slurs.” Harth said that on evening of Jan 9, 1993 at a “Calendar Girl” competition Trump directed “any black female contestant to be excluded.”

[10] Harth, who now runs a beauty business, says she’s put the lawsuit behind her, and told LawNewz.com that she’d even vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming election. However, in that same interview she also told the author of the article, Rachel Stockman, that “never disavowed the complaint to anyone.”

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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1 Response to I thought Spouses were supposed to be Off Limits on this Campaign

  1. Pingback: The Pot Calling the Kettle Black | A (or One) Skeptic

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