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“Why Don’t They Trust Her”: A Look At One Of Hillary Clinton’s Early Scandals

In recent months the mainstream media has worked itself into a frenzy trying to defend Hillary from the various scandals surrounding her campaign.  There is seemingly no end to the “plumes of smoke” emanating from the Clinton camp including questions over Benghazi, missing emails, pay-for-play at the Clinton Foundation, strange “medical episodes”, etc, etc, etc.  All the while, the press simply can’t bring themselves to understand why voters never quite view her as a trustworthy candidate. 

The problem, says Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal, is that the Clinton’s have been embroiled in so many scandals dating all the way back to the 1970’s that their name has been branded into the American psyche as being synonymous with the word “scandal” itself.  While millennial voters are most familiar with the recent scandals (and we all know how well that is playing out for her, see: “Hillary’s Growing “Millennial Problem” Forces A Reset“), older voters have been hearing about the Clinton escapades for over a quarter century since they first entered public life on the national level in the early 90’s. 

As such, the Wall Street Journal took a walk down memory lane by recounting one of Hillary’s early scandals that emerged shortly after she entered the White House and came to be known afterward as “Travelgate.”  It was out of this first scandal that Hillary’s critics said she first “revealed the soul of an East German border guard.”

Then she—not he—messed it up. It was the first big case in which she showed poor judgment, a cool willingness to mislead, and a level of political aggression that gave even those around her pause. It was after this mess that her critics said she’d revealed the soul of an East German border guard.

It all started less than four months after the Clinton’s moved to D.C. when 7 men working in the White House travel office were suddenly fired.  The same people had been running the White House travel office for 30 years and had successfully served multiple Presidents of both parties along the way.

Hillary

 

Needless to say, the press at the time was very surprised by the move to brutally fire non-political, career White House staff so early into Bill’s term.  Under pressure to answer for the firings, the White House initially offered up multiple stories that seemed to evolve daily.  Per the Wall Street Journal:

Under criticism the White House changed its story. They said that they were just trying to cut unneeded staff and save money. Then they said they were trying to impose a competitive bidding process. They tried a new explanation—the travel office shake-up was connected to Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review. (Almost immediately Mr. Gore said that was not true.) The White House then said it was connected to a campaign pledge to cut the White House staff by 25%. Finally they claimed the workers hadn’t been fired at all but placed on indefinite “administrative leave.”

Sound familiar?  It’s just a cough…no, it’s just allergies…no, it’s heat and dehydration…no, it’s pneumonia…

Hillary even alleged that Bill Dale, a 30-year veteran of the travel office, was embezzling funds and called into the FBI to investigate.  While the FBI initially balked at the case due a lack of any evidence, they eventually relented and indicted Dale on embezzlement charges.  The trial lasted two weeks but it only took the jury two hours to acquit Dale of all charges. 

Then, suddenly new details emerged from the notes of a White House staffer that suggested Hillary’s plan all along was to privatize the White House travel office and put it out for “competitive bid” to private companies.  And, as it turns out, Hillary had already identified the perfect winner of the “competitive” bidding process as none other than Harry Thomason, who just happened to be a long-time friend and fundraiser for the Clintons and had provided travel services for their 1992 campaign. 

It emerged in contemporaneous notes of a high White House staffer that the travel-office workers were removed because Mrs. Clinton wanted to give their jobs—their “slots,” as she put it, according to the notes of director of administration David Watkins—to political operatives who’d worked for Mr. Clinton’s campaign. And she wanted to give the travel office business itself to loyalists. There was a travel company based in Arkansas with long ties to the Clintons. There was a charter travel company founded by Harry Thomason, a longtime friend and fundraiser, which had provided services in the 1992 campaign. If the travel office were privatized and put to bid, he could get the business.

As the scandal grew, Hillary repeatedly denied any knowledge of the the firings, claiming under oath that she had “no role in the decision to terminate the employees” and that she did not “direct that any action be taken by anyone.”  Unsurprisingly, Hillary also had a difficult time remembering the specifics of her conversations with various staffers connected to the scandal.  Perhaps she fell and bumped her head back in the early 90’s as well?

Of course, after 3 years passed an investigation by the GAO found that, in fact, Hillary did play a direct role in the firing of the 7 travel office employees.  Moreover, a memo originally written by White House Chief of Staff, David Watkins, surfaced which directly connected Hillary to the event saying “there would be hell to pay” if staffers did not conform “to the first lady’s wishes.”

But, of course, by that time, the scandal had passed, the press had moved on and Hillary was able to simply dismiss any new questions as a futile effort of right-wing conspiracy nuts to raise doubts about a scandal that had been put to bed long ago.  A plan that the Wall Street Journal dubbed the “Clinton Scandal Ritual”:

Clinton Scandal Ritual: lie, deny, revise, claim not to remember specifics, stall for time. When it passes, call the story “old news” full of questions that have already been answered. ‘As I’ve repeatedly said . . .'”

Seemingly not much has changed over the past 25 years….