Secrets of Hillary Clinton's years in the White House are published
Thursday 20 March 2008
Some of the innermost details of Hillary Clinton's time in the White House were put on public display yesterday when 11,000 pages of documents detailing her day-to-day routine throughout eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency were released.
The daily schedules reveal a packed diary of speeches and meetings in the period her husband's presidency was in freefall over his dalliance with the White House intern Monica Lewinsky. But they cast no light on what she was saying or thinking as she coped with the revelations of his sexual betrayal.
During the week in January 1998 when the Lewinsky controversy exploded, Mrs Clinton was at Bill's side at an event where he angrily rejected the reports. In the following days, she attended his State of the Union address and chose flowers for a black-tie dinner to celebrate a "Guns Aren’t Cool" awards event.
Mrs Clinton has recently presented herself as being ready to answer a 3am crisis telephone call to the White House, but the details of her day-to-day schedule reveal nothing about what went on behind closed doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the early morning hours. But the documents provide little support for her assertion that she had a top policymaking role in his administration.
On the campaign trail, Mrs Clinton has spoken extensively of her "35 years of experience" in public life, saying she learnt how to achieve success in Washington from her early mistakes. She claims to have played a pivotal role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland, resolving a refugee crisis in Kosovo. The documents offer no support for these claims.
Much of the focus is on her ceremonial role during foreign visits, her attendance at formal White House functions as well as magazine photo-shoots.
Mrs Clinton has frequently attracted criticism for her secretiveness and details of many meeting have been blacked out on 4,400 pages.
It took a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a right-wing organisation, to get the documents covering Mrs Clinton's schedule for her 2,888 days as first lady released. Many pages have segments blacked out and her schedule for 30 days remains missing. Another 20,000 pages are still under review by Bill Clinton's presidential library.
The released documents reveal her to have been hard at work on health care, education, international development, women's rights and democracy. Unlike many of her predecessors who plunged into Washington’s social whirl or became immersed in beautification projects, Mrs Clinton relished the chance to become involved in policy-making.
Almost from the moment she arrived in the White House in January 1993, Mrs Clinton was calling meetings on her ultimately doomed initiative on health reform. Her schedule for that month shows her attending a private get-together with aides in the West Wing, on a Saturday, three days after Bill was sworn in.
Her political opposition, investigative journalists and others were scouring the documents yesterday. One of the documents reveals that on one Saturday Mrs Clinton was invited to a "private meeting" between noon and 2 pm on campaign reform in the Roosevelt room. It was followed by another private meeting in her West Wing office.
She then departed for a buffet dinner at 8.15 pm. The identity of her host has been deleted, but the event is described as an "informal meet and greet with old friends and former classmates" with hors d’oeuvres. She was back at the White House at 10.15pm.
On the following Monday she was back at work on health care reform attending a series of closed meetings with cabinet members. Her opponents immediately pounced on even these scant revelations. Tom Fitton, of Judicial Watch, said it showed from the outset she had been a "co-president". Right-wing opponents claim that, if she wins the presidential election, Bill Clinton will return to an unwelcome executive role.
For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08
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