Comparing the Donald and Bill Clinton’s record of behavior with women (revised and updated)

Donald Trump has had a bad week on top of the bad several weeks that he has had since his first debate with Hillary Clinton. This week someone unearthed the 2005 bus trip conversation that he had with Billy Bush,[1] which for some reason was caught on a hot microphone.

The tape speaks for itself, and doesn’t require much interpretation. On the other hand, the Donald has maintained that what he has said and done is much less egregious than what Bill Clinton has done. So, even though spouses are supposed to be “off limits” in this election, let’s go ahead and look at the comparison.

At the outset, 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. He may have been guilty of sexual assault.

Bill Clinton’s Record

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

  • Gennifer Flowers, a former model who claimed to have had a 12-year relationship with Clinton (but most likely had a brief affair).[2]
  • Monica Lewinsky, the famous former intern who at least had oral sex 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, who 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, who claimed to have a sexual relationship of some kind with Clinton.

People much smarter than me (Gail Sheehy, for example) have suggested that Bill Clinton emerged from his highly dysfunctional childhood with a sexual addiction. It is also clear that while Governor of Arkansas, a large number of women propositioned Bill Clinton (or at least signaled their availability), just as was true for Magic Johnson before he contracted AIDS. For a man who arguably had a sexual addiction, that’s a lot of temptation.

On the other hand, there are also three women in particular who have alleged that their sexual contact with Bill Clinton was non-consensual:

  • Paula Jones, who alleged that Clinton, while Governor, exposed himself to her in a room at the Excelsior Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas.” 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.[3]
  • 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. The problem with her allegations is principally that she initially denied that anything non-consensual occurred, and she did so under oath. In the Paula Jones case, when contacted by the Starr investigators, Broadrick filed an affidavit denying any sexual contact between her and Clinton. She subsequently contradicted her affidavit several years later in an interview by NBC’s Lisa Meyers, but this was after Clinton had already been acquitted in his impeachment trial.

Kathleen 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,[4] (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.

With respect to Paula Jones, Jeffrey Toobin, in his book “A Vast Conpiracy” makes a persuasive case that Paula Jones and Bill Clinton most likely had a consensual sexual encounter, but because Paula Jones was married to a very jealous husband, she later claimed that the encounter was non-consensual. Stephen Jones, her husband at the time, was a driving force behind the civil suit, and arguably prevented the case from being settled early on with reasonable terms. Stephen and Paula Jones subsequently divorced in 1999.

None of this proves 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 other men of sexual improprieties. However appalling Bill Clinton’s legacy of sexual improprieties is, Donald Trump’s is just as bad. Or worse.

There are many reasons to 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. But one thing is for sure: he cheated on his first wife, the former Ivana Zelnícková with Marla Maples, who became his second wife.[5]

What there is little doubt about is that Donald Trump is a serial sexual harasser, and that he has a deplorable attitude towards women. A large number of sexual harassment allegations have been made against Donald Trump over the years. One of them is from the Apprentice, where Donald Trump says to contestant Brande Roderick right on camera, “it must be a pretty picture seeing you drop to your knees.” You can see it right on YouTube. That’s hardly the only incident. Other examples incude:

  • Carrie Prejean, a former Miss USA contestant, 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.
  • 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?”[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.”[9]
  • 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. [10] 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. She now says that she would vote for him.[11]
  • 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. Except for his ex-wife Ivana (see below), 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.

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 that’s not the choice she made. For reasons that are hers and hers alone, she chose to stay with the man that she raised her daughter with, a man with whom, by all accounts, she is enormously compatible with, except for in at least one clearly defined arena. Just as we need to respect a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, we need to respect a woman’s right to choose to stay married to her husband, regardless of the transgressions he might have committed. Many people have speculated on her reasons, but she’s the only one who knows for sure.

Now, despite what the Republicans would have you believe, Hillary Clinton 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. What is clear, is that she doesn’t believe that her husband is a rapist. While Hillary has sometimes suffered from “cognitive dissonance” when it comes to her husband and his affairs, she still knows him better than any of the rest of us. She is entitled to stand with her husband against his accusers.

The Prevarication of the Donald’s Wives

The Donald has been married three times, once to an émigré from the western side of the former Czechoslovakia, (Ivanna Trump) and once to a woman from the eastern side of the former republic (Milania Trump). And once to a Georgia Peach (Marla Maples), proving that he can find a wife somewhere other than from Eastern Europe.

Both Milania Trump and Ivanna Trump have a history of being less than truthful. Milania famously lifted portions of her RNC convention speech from Michelle Obama’s 2012 DNC convention speech. But that’s not the only time she has been caught out. Milania also was caught enhancing her professional resume, when she claimed that she graduated “in design and architecture at University of Slovenia.” The first problem with this claim is that there is no “University of Slovenia.” There is, however, a University of Ljubljana, which interestingly enough is in Slovenia (one of the former Yugoslavian republics) and not Slovakia. The second problem with this claim is that she did not graduate. According to official records, Milania dropped out of college after her freshman year.

Also caught enhancing her resume is the Donald’s first Czechoslovakian wife, Ivanna. The mother of Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric, has claimed in her official biography that she was selected as an alternate on the 1972 Czechoslovak Olympic Ski Team. The only problem is that they have never heard of her.

But the most serious problem with Ivanna Trump’s lack of truthfulness concerns the rape allegations against the Donald, previously discussed. Again, in a 1993 deposition she gave while she was seeking a divorce from the Donald, she claimed that he had raped her in 1989, while they were still married. This claim was made under oath. After she obtained the settlement that she wanted, she recanted her claim, which recantation she maintains to this day.

So either she was lying then or she is lying now.

Either he raped her and she is covering for him, or she made a false accusation of rape in order to achieve a financial advantage. She can’t have it both ways. Either one of these two things must be true.

Bill Clinton is Not Running for President

The allegations made in the past against Bill Clinton are both very serious and very troubling. They tarnish his legacy substantially. But Bill Clinton is not running for President. The time to vet these allegations and to come to conclusions about their veracity was in 1992 (and again in 1996) when he was running for President. In fact, a number of journalists and political opponents did look into these allegations at that time, and they did not stick.

Hillary Clinton is running for President, and whatever she has or has not done as a proxy to her husband’s former accusers pales in comparison to what Donald Trump has actually done regularly and directly in his own behavior with women.

Once again, as has so often been the case in this election, this is a matter of false equivalence. There simply is no comparison.


[1] Billy Bush happens to be a member of the Bush family, as he is the son of Jonathan Bush, younger brother to George H. W. Bush.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

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

[5] 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.

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

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

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

[9] 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.

[10] 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.”

[11] 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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One Response to Comparing the Donald and Bill Clinton’s record of behavior with women (revised and updated)

  1. Pingback: Arlie Russel Hochschild and the Analogy of Cutting in Line | A (or One) Skeptic

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