By Cathleen Decker
Los Angeles Times
In one of the thousands of Clinton administration papers released Friday came a hint of what is to come if Hillary Rodham Clinton decides to run for president in 2016.
In a January 1996 memo to White House communications director and speechwriter Don Baer, President Clinton’s political advisor Paul Begala wrote that in the upcoming State of the Union address “it’s imperative that the president defend the honor of the first lady tonight, with the whole country watching.”
“The Republicans are attacking her without compunction, in part because they know the Democrats are too . . . to retaliate,”
Begala wrote, including a term, omitted here, rooted in his Texas upbringing.
The memo does not mention why she was being attacked, but the fact that there were so many options explains why even many Democrats are wary of a Clinton restoration.
In just that one month, January of 1996, dual Clinton scandals were confounding the White House and greatly complicating the presidency.
House and Senate hearings featured gavel-pounding displays of anti-Clinton fervor; also revolving around the first couple were independent counsels, visible threats to the family’s political viability:
-The travel office firings:
Four months after Bill Clinton took office in 1992, the White House announced that it was firing all seven employees of the in-house travel office, which arranged trips for the media.
Officials blamed the employees for gross financial mismanagement, but the move took on another cast when the administration sought to replace them with a travel agency from Arkansas.
Hillary Clinton insisted in a 1995 deposition that she had no role in the firings. But an investigation by independent counsel Robert W. Ray found that there was “overwhelming evidence” that she had played a role.
Still, he said in a report released in the fall of 2000, only months before the Clintons left the White House, there was not sufficient evidence to prove that she had lied under oath about what she had done.