In her previous lawyer career, she was on the unpaid legal team representing Paula Jones. She had (according to Michael Isikoff of Newsweek) been responsible for leaking words of Bill Clinton’s “distinguishing characteristic” that was to give credibility to the lawsuit. (By the way, this sort of evidence seems flimsy to me; I mean, couldn’t several hundred of people have seen it in normal contexts (i.e., locker room, doctor’s office, etc)? Coulter is reported to have said:
“I thought if I leaked the distinguishing characteristic it would show bad faith in negotiations. [Clinton lawyer] Bob Bennett would think Jones had leaked it. Cammaratta would know he himself hadn’t leaked it and would get mad at Bennett. It might stall negotiations enough for me to get through to [Jones adviser] Susan Carpenter-McMillan to tell her that I thought settling would hurt Paula, that this would ruin her reputation, and that there were other lawyers working for her. Then 36 hours later, she returned my phone call.
“I just wanted to help Paula. I really think Paula Jones is a hero. I don’t think I could have taken the abuse she came under. She’s this poor little country girl and she has the most powerful man she’s ever met hitting on her sexually, then denying it and smearing her as president. And she never did anything tacky. It’s not like she was going on TV or trying to make a buck out of it.”
This actually seems credible. The Paula Jones matter has always been a subject of immense interest to me. My take on it has been that Paula Jones was definitely propositioned, and yes, it was inappropriate. Perhaps Bill Clinton should have been fined for sexual harrassment, but after the incident occurred, there was no retaliation; it was a one time thing which never should have been done.
But Paula Jones never brought up the matter voluntarily. The only reason she made an issue is that the American Spectator article reported wrongly that she had said yes. She started the whole escapade by suing American Spectator; then her attorneys, realizing that the lawsuit hinged on Bill Clinton’s actions, turned the focus to him and attracted an outpouring of help from Republican hatchet men. (This was spelled out in detail by Michael Isikoff in his book Uncovering Clinton).
Paula Jones’ public bargaining position was that she merely wanted an acknowledgement from Bill Clinton that he had acted inappropriately and that Paula Jones had not consented. In the years of negotiation that followed, the lawyers finally won Paula Jones a settlement of $850,000, an amount that horrified Coulter. “We were terrified that Jones would settle,” Coulter said to Isikoff. “It was contrary to our purpose of bringing down the President.” Later, when Jones agreed to the amount (and agreed to pose nude for Playboy), Coulter called her “the trailer-park trash they said she was.”
It was unsettling for Jones the victim to have decided to cash in on the scandal. But wait–she wasn’t initially interested in the money; why did her lawyers start negotiating for money? And more importantly, why did Bill and Hillary agree to it?
Hillary Clinton must have agreed with her husband’s decision to pay $850,000 to Paula Jones. Surely Bill must have come clean to Hillary about it. Then why did Hillary agree to pay the hush money? 850,000 is a huge amount of money. (By the way, I wonder how much of that came directly from their pockets; is that covered by homeowner’s insurance or are there special scandal insurance policies for politicos to buy?) In retrospect Bill should have just issued a statement that yes, he acted inappropriately to Jones, and that he was sorry. But rather than issue an apology, Bill and Hillary paid $850,000. Hillary probably has more integrity than Bill, but paying hush money seems like an outrageous way to handle a delicate political situation. Ultimately, this payout proved to do little good and the bimbo eruptions seemed to have continued.
I generally praise Hillary Clinton as a politician, but how can we tolerate politicians who are willing to pay such hush money?
Update: I just finished Michael Isikoff’s Uncovering Clinton book. My opinions have changed somewhat about this whole matter–wait for the blogpost about it.