Washington: Almost 40 years after Bill and Hillary Clinton first entered American public life, they are to leave it beset by crushing humiliation.
There will be no first female U.S. President — this time. History will not be made by a wife following her two-term husband into the Oval Office. There will be no dynasty, no President Hillary Clinton.
The first whiff of scandal to surround the Clintons began with the 1993 sacking of the seven employees in the White House Travel Office, soon after Bill had become President. These staffers were replaced by a commercial travel firm from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Critics claimed the changes were ordered by the Clintons so that their cronies — in one case a cousin — could take over the multi-million dollar business of White House travel arrangements.
A claim that Hillary had been instrumental in securing the firings — something she had denied — seemed to be confirmed by an internal White House memo unearthed in 1996.
A cover-up was alleged. In 2000, an official report on ‘Travelgate’ decided that while some of Mrs Clinton’s statements were ‘factually false’ and that she had played a role in the sackings, there was insufficient evidence to support the laying of criminal charges against her.
She was able to continue her ultimately successful bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
‘Whitewater’ was the key financial scandal of the Clinton presidency. Neither Bill nor Hillary were prosecuted — after three inquiries failed to find sufficient evidence to link them to the criminal conduct of others — but two of their associates and a partner in her law firm were jailed.
Another crony had to resign as Arkansas governor. Along the way, Mrs Clinton became the first-ever First Lady to have been subpoenaed to give evidence, and a close aide was found dead. The Whitewater investigation by independent counsel Kenneth Starr would also expose Bill Clinton’s hectic sex life to the scrutiny of the world.
So what was it all about? In 1978, Bill was Arkansas attorney general and running for state governor. That year he and Hillary joined another couple, James and Susan McDougal, to borrow $203,000 to buy 220 acres in the Ozark Mountains on which to build holiday homes. A company called the Whitewater Development Corporation was founded for the project.
In 1999, Juanita Broaddrick, a nursing home administrator, alleged that she had been raped by Bill Clinton in 1978 when he was Arkansas attorney general.
She would not speak about the incident again until January this year, when she tweeted: ‘I was 35 years old when Bill Clinton, Ark. Attorney General raped me and Hillary tried to silence me. I am now 73 . . . it never goes away.’
She subsequently appeared on a panel at one of the presidential debates with Donald Trump and other alleged Clinton victims.
In 1994, with Clinton by then in the White House, Ms Jones filed a claim for sexual harassment against him and demanded $750,000 in damages. The case dragged through the civil courts until November 1998, when the President settled for the amount she had demanded. There was no apology.
By then the affair had spun way out of Clinton’s control. In the course of the Jones litigation, her legal team had tried to establish that the President’s alleged behaviour was part of a pattern.