Politics & Policy

Juanita Broaddrick Still Haunts Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton with Broaddrick (at right) in Van Buren, Ark., c. 1978. (Getty Images)
'She threatened me.’ —Juanita Broaddrick on Hillary’s role in covering for Bill Clinton

On January 6, a ghost from Hillary Clinton’s past stirred:

“I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me,” Juanita Broaddrick tweeted from her home in Van Buren, Ark. “I am now 73. . . . it never goes away.”

That is the same language Broaddrick would use two years later during her NBC interview when, describing the moment of the rape, she said, “He [Bill] was such a different person at that moment. He was just a vicious, awful person.” And in explaining to Lisa Myers why she had not reported her assault to authorities, Broaddrick said: “I didn’t think anyone would believe me in the world. . . . I was also afraid what would happen to me if I came forward. I was afraid that I would be destroyed like so many of the other women have been.” The consistencies between this recording and Broaddrick’s later interview are particularly noteworthy given that Broaddrick did not know she was being recorded.

And it may not have been the first time Broaddrick was secretly recorded. In 1992, Phillip Yoakum, an Arkansas businessman, learned of Broaddrick’s assault from one of her colleagues. Yoakum penned a letter, encouraging Broaddrick to go public with her charge. The letter was widely circulated among Republicans, who hoped to use it to puncture Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential hopes. In October, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times got wind of a story “that a nursing-home executive had been sexually assaulted in 1978 by Bill Clinton,” as the New York Times later wrote. But both papers passed, dismissing it as a hoax.

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Yoakum claimed to have secretly recorded a conversation with Broaddrick in which she outlined her allegation. He never revealed any such recording, but in her conversation with the Lamberts, Broaddrick mentions in passing: “I thought maybe ya’ll had gotten the recording and that’s the reason you came.” In other words, she worried that they had learned about the allegations she made in that conversation, which, as noted above, she makes clear she does not want to discuss.

Skeptics cite Broaddrick’s 1998 affidavit as a decisive inconsistency. (Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal points to it in his memoir The Clinton Wars.) But, in fact, it appears to be little more than an explicable anomaly. In 1978, in 1992, in 1997, and in 1999, in public and in private, Broaddrick’s story is generally consistent. By contrast, Anita Hill’s testimony broke down in a matter of hours.

Unlike Anita Hill, Broaddrick was never lauded by Hillary Clinton for “transforming consciousness” or offering “courageous testimony.”

Instead, she was audited. In the summer of 2000, Bill’s last year in the White House, the nursing home Broaddrick had operated for a quarter-century was selected for additional scrutiny by the IRS — to Broaddrick’s bewilderment: “Our business has not changed in any way — no change in ownership, no change in anything,” Broaddrick told The Weekly Standard. “I can’t imagine what would draw someone’s attention to my business.” Coincidentally, both Paula Jones and Elizabeth Gracen also scored IRS audits during the Clinton years.

(Scott Olson/Getty)

It has now been 17 years since Juanita Broaddrick went public with her accusation, and 38 years since the alleged assault. She has largely receded from the public eye that she never wanted to attract in the first place.

But the Clintons have not. Hillary Clinton, despite an investigation by the FBI, remains the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic party, and it is not at all unlikely that Bill Clinton might find himself back in the White House, albeit in a different role.

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Broaddrick hates the thought of it. Seeing the Clintons on front pages and magazine covers again: “It’s so difficult,” she tells me from her home in Van Buren. And of the former secretary of state’s tweet about believing survivors of assault, she exclaims: “Shame on you, Hillary! Shame on you! How could you tweet out something like that when you know we’re all still here, and we’ve tried to come forward?”

Broaddrick confesses that she no longer recalls every detail. “Well! I haven’t thought about him in years!” she says when I ask about Phillip Yoakum. She doesn’t remember if they ever talked or about a secret recording in the early 1990s.

#related#But her story has not changed. When I ask about the affidavit, she says just what she told Lisa Myers in 1999: “I wanted to stay in the background. I didn’t want the publicity regarding it. I just did not want to come forward.”

And Hillary? When Bill’s wife shook her hand in 1978, was she trying to send a message? “There was no doubt in my mind. It not only shocked me, it made me very frightened. The smile dropped, and the intonation of her voice, it was very cold. She knew what he had done to me, and she was saying, ‘Thank you very much for keeping quiet.’”

I ask Broaddrick what happens now — now that she and her story are back in the news. “I honestly do not know where things go from here,” she says. “I can tell you I’m not political. I have no political interest whatsoever. My only interest is in making sure the Clintons don’t get back into the White House. I know nothing about politics. All I know is what happened in that room in 1978, and what happened two weeks later, when she threatened me.”

“I sat for about an hour with my Twitter account,” she adds. “I sat there for the longest time and thought, ‘Don’t do this.’ But I did it. And I’m glad I did.”

— Ian Tuttle is a National Review Institute Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism.


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