In the mid-1980s, Hillary Clinton participated in some insightful interviews with Arkansas journalist Roy Reed. Now dubbed “the Hillary Clinton tapes,” those audio recordings were recently unearthed from the University of Arkansas Library by the Washington Free Beacon Press.
Among the approximately five hours worth of recordings, Clinton discusses her role in the plea bargain deal of an alleged 41-year-old rapist.
The Free Beacon takes issue with the fact that Clinton laughs throughout her recollections. And while the site leans conservative, they may have a point, especially when coupling Clinton’s comments with a little-seen 2008 Newsday article in which the former First Lady and defense attorney seems to use techniques from the blame the victim textbook of criminal defense in getting a 12-year-old girl’s attacker off with a light sentence.
The conservative news site notes that Hillary found it funny her client passed a polygraph, or lie-detector test, adding that the results “forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs.”
The site also quotes at length from Clinton’s original 1975 court affidavit.
“In a July 28, 1975, court affidavit, Clinton wrote that she had been informed the young girl was ‘emotionally unstable’ and had a ‘tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing.’
“‘I have also been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences and that adolescents in disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to exaggerate behavior,’ Clinton said.
“Clinton said the child had ‘in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body” and that the girl “exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way.'”
Ultimately, it was a mistake of the prosecution that allowed Hillary to get her client off with a slap on the wrist. “Oh he plea bargained,” she said when answering Reed’s question on the outcome of the case. “Got him off with time served in the county jail; he’d been in the county jail about two months.”
Clinton addressed some of the ethical issues surrounding the case in her previous book Living History, but as the Free Beacon points out, “her written account some three decades later is short on details and has a far different tone than the tapes.”
Here’s the roughly seven-minute excerpt from the Hillary Clinton Tapes that discusses the case at length:
One other point of contention:
Ronald D. Rotunda, a professor of legal ethics at Chapman University, noted that even if you don’t buy into the fact Clinton may have used a blame the victim defense against the 12-year-old girl, her decision to talk about the case was ethically questionable.
“You can’t do that,” he said of Clinton’s comments. “Unless the client says, ‘You’re free to tell people that you really think I’m a scumbag, and the only reason I got a lighter sentence is because you’re a really clever lawyer.'”
Clinton’s client, Thomas Alfred Taylor, died in 1992. According to the Free Beacon, the 12-year-old is now 52 and holds ill will toward Hillary. From the Free Beacon report:
“Divorced and living alone, she blames her troubled life on the attack. She was in prison for check forgery to pay for her prior addiction to methamphetamines when Newsday interviewed her in 2008. The story says she harbored no ill will toward Clinton.
“According to her, that is not the case.
“‘Is this about that rape of me?’ she asked when a Free Beacon reporter knocked on her door and requested an interview.
“Declining an interview, she nevertheless expressed deep and abiding hostility toward the Newsday reporter who spoke to her in 2008 — and toward her assailant’s defender, Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
With a book tour currently underway and “Hillary Clinton for President” being bandied about by supporters, it will be interesting to see where this story takes the former First Lady’s political aspirations from here. The Diane Sawyer interview with Clinton did her few favors when she claimed to being “dead broke” after leaving the White House following her husband’s second term.
(Obviously, she wasn’t, compared to most Americans.)
Last but not least, her favorability rating appeared to be sinking prior to the accusations presented in the new report.
Do you think Hillary Clinton used a blame the victim defense on a 12-year-old rape victim? And what are your thoughts on her tone as she discussed getting a light sentence for a man she believed to be guilty of rape? Lastly, do you think she violated attorney-client privileges by doing the interview? Share your thoughts below.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]