When it comes to politics, Bill and Hillary Clinton are some of the most paradoxical politicians in history. This is because they were generally successful and well-liked back in the day (particularly Bill Clinton, as he presided over both an economic and technological boom as president), but the two now have too much baggage to really participate in politics any longer. This is something Hillary found out in the harshest possible way when she narrowly lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump.
Here’s the thing, though: when most people imagine scandals on the part of the Clinton family, they usually only think of one or two things. In reality, these two have been involved in too many scandals for any one person to keep up with. But that’s where we come in: we’ve reviewed the controversies, and we’re here to break down the biggest scandals the Clintons desperately wish to keep hidden.
The affair with Monica Lewinsky
Remember when we said that most people only think of one or two scandals when they think about the Clintons? When it comes to Bill Clinton, the biggest scandal of his life occurred during his time as president. And that was, of course, when his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public knowledge.
As History reports, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky began a sexual relationship in 1995. They had a secret affair for about two years, leading to nearly a dozen romantic encounters between them. When Monica dished about the affair to coworker Linda Tripp, Tripp recorded their conversations and brought them to Kenneth Starr, who was leading the prosecution in the Whitewater lawsuit (more on this later).
After Starr released the info to the world, the House of Representatives ended up impeaching Clinton, and the president had dug himself that much deeper by previously denying the affair. While he was ultimately acquitted, Clinton is, embarrassingly, one of only three presidents to be impeached in American history.
The Benghazi attack
Back in 2012, Hillary Clinton was serving as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State when the infamous attack on the United States embassy in Benghazi went down. As the State Department reports, she quickly got ahead of the story by giving a press conference and linking the attacks to protests around the world, including protests in Cairo.
Here’s where it gets weird: as CNN points out, Clinton’s own State Department publicly disagreed with her, noting there was no apparent link between those protests and the violent Benghazi attack. Sensing blood in the water, congressional Republicans began a smear campaign, claiming that both Clinton and her department had not done enough to preserve the lives of the victims.
This culminated in Trey Gowdy and the House Select Committee on Benghazi investigating Clinton for two years. They didn’t actually find anything, but the investigation accomplished its true purpose: smearing Hillary Clinton’s name.
Lies about dodging sniper fire
Because of things like the Benghazi smear campaigns, it’s easy to defend Hillary Clinton as a good politician who is simply the victim of lies others tell about her. But back in 2008, she visited George Washington University and fell victim to lies being spread by one person: herself.
Accordion to the Washington Post, Clinton decided to regale the students with some of her travel stories, including a time she landed in Bosnia “under sniper fire,” making her fear for her life. Just one problem: this didn’t happen, and various reporters who were in Bosnia at the time began discussing how they had no memory of this. Eventually, CBS News released footage that showed Clinton peacefully landing and meeting with foreign dignitaries, with no gunfire whatsoever.
It’s a really silly and inconsequential thing to lie about, but to her critics, that was really the point. If Hillary Clinton was willing to lie about something as innocuous as a plane landing in order to make herself look good to random students, what else would she be willing to lie about when the personal stakes are higher?
Paula Jones scandal
Obviously, Monica Lewinsky is the main woman most people think about when they think about Bill Clinton’s affairs. However, one year before he and Lewinsky began their affair, History reports that Clinton was sued by Paula Jones, a woman who threw some very serious accusations of sexual assault at the president.
This lawsuit dragged on for half a decade, with Clinton ultimately settling with her for $850,000. But that’s not what made this such a big scandal: Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky was only discovered due to the discovery part of the trial. Therefore, while Paula Jones walked away with a decent settlement, we imagine the more rewarding thing was knowing she helped cause permanent damage to Bill Clinton and his legacy (something that the founder of the somewhat shady Clinton Foundation clearly cares about).
The first major scandal with the Clintons began in 1978, the same year that Bill Clinton was elected as the governor of Arkansas. Back then, he and Hillary bought a whopping 220 acres in that state’s Ozark Mountains. As reported by the Washington Post, the Clintons wanted to go into real estate (usually a surefire move for profit), so they created the Whitewater Development Corporation in order to build vacation homes.
They developed that corporation with the help of James and Susan McDougal, and the Clintons soon became seriously intertwined with this family. James previously loaned Hillary Clinton a cool $30,000, and after he opened Guaranty Bank, he hired Hillary as one of his attorneys and contributed money to Bill’s presidential campaign.
However, James McDougal was eventually investigated and then indicted on charges of fraud in 1989. He got acquitted in 1992, but this didn’t keep the Federal Resolution Trust Corporation from filing a report saying that Bill Clinton might have benefited from some of the bank’s allegedly illegal activities. Like McDougal, Clinton was eventually cleared after a Senate investigation, but without this investigation, Linda Tripp would not have had had convenient prosecutor Kenneth Star around to hand her incriminating Monica Lewinsky info too.
In this way, Whitewater was the beginning of the end for Clinton’s reputation and legacy.
Grabbing goodies on the way out of the White House
Most of the scandals we’ve touched on were major international news back in the day, and the Clintons surely wish we’d forget about them. But one of the controversies is one that we’ll never forget about, and that’s because it’s so stupid and petty. What are we talking about? The time the Clintons stole six figures worth of furniture, of course!
After Bill Clinton’s two terms as president, he and Hillary had to clear out of the White House. According to The Washington Post, they took more than their personal effects with them. They also ended up taking about $190,000 worth of furniture, artwork, and various gifts. Needless to say, it was a bad look: the former President of the United States stole as much as he could on his way out just like a disgruntled employee clearing out the break room on his last lunch break.
There was a nonpartisan outcry against this behavior, and the Clintons made it worse when they pledged to return only about $86,000 of what they took. They eventually returned more after this announcement resulted in more controversy, but nobody felt the brunt of the scandal as much as Hillary Clinton. At the time, she had just been sworn in as New York’s junior senator, and that meant she began her own political career amid an unpleasant cloud of controversy.