Hillary Clinton waited until 15 minutes before President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday evening to publish a response to last week’s report alleging she shielded a top campaign adviser in 2008 from credible allegations of sexual misconduct.
Great timing, madame secretary. It’s probably just a coincidence that she pushed out a response to the scandal just as every eyeball in the news media was trained elsewhere.
“I very much understand the question I’m being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior,” the failed presidential candidate said in a statement posted to her Facebook page. “The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t.”
During the 2008 primaries, Clinton was told that one of her senior advisers, Burns Strider, was sexually harassing a female colleague, the New York Times reported last Friday. Clinton declined a recommendation to fire the man. Instead, she dealt with the problem by making the victim sign a nondisclosure agreement. The campaign then shifted the victim to a different position on staff.
Strider, who has admitted to the charges, was “docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling.” That was it. After 2008, he went on to work for a separate group that supported Clinton’s failed 2016 presidential bid. He was fired from that position eventually over — you guessed it — allegations of sexual misconduct.
Clinton tweeted a weak response this weekend to the New York Times report, and she was rightly criticized for saying a whole lot of nothing.
On Tuesday, as every reporter in the world focused on the House chamber in the Capitol, the two-time failed presidential candidate published a Facebook statement explaining why she let Strider off the hook in 2008.
“I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous,” the statement read.
It added, “You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation — to ask and try to answer the hard questions, not just in the abstract but in the real-life contexts of our roles as men, women, bosses, employees, advocates, and public officials.”
There's probably nothing to read into the fact that a woman who has been in and around politics for 30-plus years chose to release this statement just minutes before her opponent's first State of the Union address. Nothing to see here at all!