October 16th, 2007
07:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Republicans seize on Clinton eavesdropping allegation

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republicans on Capitol Hill and around the country engaged Tuesday in a coordinated effort to paint Hillary Clinton as hypocritical on the issue of government surveillance, seizing on an allegation in a recent book that Clinton secretly listened to phone conversations of political opponents in 1992.

The orchestrated attack is part of an evolving GOP strategy to attack Senator Clinton with dual goals: tarnishing her image and rallying the GOP base.

The effort - coordinated by the RNC - resulted in press releases Tuesday from House Republicans, as well as multiple state GOP parties from Michigan to Arkansas to Alabama.

A statement from Michigan's GOP chairman accused Clinton of "the highest form of hypocrisy," and cited this as a "clear example of how the Clintons will stop at nothing to recapture the White House."

Arkansas' Republican Party chairman called on the state attorney general to investigate whether Clinton may have eavesdropped and recorded political opponents' telephone conversations with her husband was governor of Arkansas.

At issue is an allegation in a book by New York Times reporters Don Van Natta and Jeff Gerth that staffers for the Clintons in 1992 intercepted cell phone conversations of political rivals discussing the possibility of other women coming forward with allegations of affairs with Bill Clinton.

Gerth told The Hill newspaper that he learned of the incident in 2006 form a former Clinton campaign aide who claimed to be present at the taping. Gerth has not revealed his source's identity.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines refuses to comment on the substance of Van Natta and Gerth's book.

"It's a valiant effort by Jeff Gerth to get his 16th minute of fame, but we don't comment on books that were utter and complete failures, rift with inaccuracies and falsehoods, and rejected by reviewers and readers alike," Reines said.

In terms of the Republican attack, Clinton Campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson told CNN, "As Hillary Clinton continues to beat all Republicans in poll after poll this is just politics as usual from Republicans who can't defend this president's failed policies. The story is categorically untrue."

Republicans are candid about their desire to go after Hillary Clinton, and use it as a tool to rally a disillusioned GOP base.
RNC spokesman Danny Diaz told CNN they "saw a political opportunity and communicated with friends in the states and on the Hill."

"We believe that this is something Hillary Clinton is going to face again and again. The reality is that her weak national security record is something she needs to face if she makes it to the general election," Diaz said.

- CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. Chris, Middletown, CT

    As a Republican – I have to admit this is alittle old to even look at – when theres so much thats happened in the last couple months....liberals...just for fun....(and this is fun too) – search for the transcripts from the debates – and look at the questions...and Hillarys answers...then read the answers again...and see that she really doesn't ever clearly answer anything...(I know...you guys will have an excuse....you have become so good at defending her....she has trust issues....the people don't trust her...I trust Obama....(even though he leans left....and panders to the unions) – this is why Giuliani will win the election....even my state is no longer a lock for the Dems....yeah CT!! we are starting to think!! Giuliani 08 – no doubt!

    October 17, 2007 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. seymore, pa

    for the record, any transmission over the air waves are fair game. they can be intercepted and listened to with impunity.

    October 17, 2007 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  3. Sarah

    I would like to enlighten all posters who believe it is the right winged republican base that wants to through Hillary under the campaign bus.

    We are democrats. We think Hillary will be a disaster for this country. She lies, takes money from the PAC's who will stop any real reform, and she will further divide our sadly fractured nation.

    Wake up. We are democrats and we are not going to stand by and let her become the leader of this country.

    October 17, 2007 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Look at the story of Obama being related to Cheney and Bush.
    Doesn't anyone think the timing of these two articles are coordinated to have the maximum negative effect on two of the most threatening candidates to the Rebubs?? I think so!!
    Although, I think Hillary got off lightly compared to what they said about Obama.
    I'm still weeping for him.

    Posted By Angela, wpb, fl : October 16, 2007 11:59 pm

    Since CNN is the only place where I heard the Obama story:

    Are you suggesting that CNN (of all networks) by posting these two stories are somehow affiliated with the Republicans?

    Two New York times INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS are certainly not part of "the vast right-wing conpiracy", but they write a book about the "queen" and her usual corrupt BS,and you sheep will dismiss it NO MATTER WHAT and heaven forbid the Republicans want it investigated.

    After all isn't the New York Times the beacon of our media, "All the news that's fit to print"?

    The rules are set, NOBODY can say ANYTHING about the "queen" during the next election cycle and that includes fellow Democrats (smears), Republicans (VRWC), prize winning liberal reporters (hacks), Fox news (duh), CNN (now part of the VRWC) and the coronation will be completed.

    She can be caught robbing a bank with a KKK shirt on you sheep would not only dismiss it, but find ways to blame someone else.

    With all her and Billyboy's dirt, the mud will be easy to sling. Bah, Bah.

    October 17, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Heath, L.A., CA

    It is just insane to read the posts of people supporting this woman. So sick of the Bush/Clinton rule (regime). And CNN and the rest of the media help her along. Not that the GOP side is any good. These candidates are dominated by CFR cronies, neo-cons & neo-libs, globalists, Bilderbergers, etc. We need someone like Ron Paul in office to restore the Republic and look to the Constitution.

    October 17, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Beck Carthage, Mo

    The old GOP slime machine is getting an early start this election cycle. The desperation is almost laughable. Why has CNN suddenly become one of their water carriers?

    October 17, 2007 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. L. White, San Diego

    I wonder if this is a response to the Frontline documentary, Cheyney" and that documents with many witnesses, his and Addington+Bush's attempt to take over the country, including illegal moves on eavesdropping on all American citizens..look at the whole file on frontline + cheyney

    October 17, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Mia

    Again, I don't see how this is going to change a THING. Accusing other politicians of –um–being politicians?
    Craig is an IDIOT. Hillary is not a saint, but she's not stupid enough to admit to her guilt and then try to reverse it later. Republicans should stop selling us old news repackaged as "new" news– no one's listening anymore.

    October 17, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    Yestarday Tucker Carlson a conservative republican host on MSNBC discussed this story.
    Tucker Carlson: Because here is what Clinton's press secretary said, asked for comment, he said, I'm quoting now, "We don't comment on books that are utter and complete failures." He Mr. Carlson then went on to say and I quote, "In other words, we only comment on John Grisham novels. That's the only thing we're going to talk about. What do its sale numbers have to do with the truth or falseness of the allegations?"
    Mr. Carlson conveniently left off "rift with inaccuracies and falsehoods, and rejected by reviewers and readers alike."
    Without Mr. Carlson's parsing and editing of the statement he could not have made his accusations.
    It's always good to be able to go to the source so we can not be fooled by those who have an agenda.
    Mr. Carlson make you case but be accurate when you quote someone.
    You were not hired to be impartial but you should be truthfull, for if you have to omit or lie what does that say about your case.

    October 17, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  10. Mia

    Liberal bias? Did you guys ever stop to think that maybe the world is moving left - except for you? Really no one but the GOP cares that gays are (gasp) human beings and deserve not to get fired from their jobs. Only the GOP would support loonies that claim that by not spewing hate against gays is somehow violating their rights to practice their religion. Only the GOP would blindly follow a president who no one much likes but them. It doesn't pay to paint Hillary as the Devil Incarnate when you're the Devil's spawn.

    October 17, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Johnny Duke, Houston, TX

    WHOA...Hold on a minute, second, nannoseconds...did anyone here catch "Frontline" last night? This is obscene to say the least when compared to "Cheney's Law" that has controlled this country since 1975!!! And the Republican have the outright INCOURAGEOUS GAUL to call Sen. Clinton a hypocrit? Give me a break! This is one P-–! (fill it in Repubs)

    October 17, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Sue, Michigan

    Chris, you've got to be kidding that you prefer Rudy to Hillary! If he becomes the nominee, the skeletons will come falling out of the closets pretty quickly. He's running on "9-11, 9-11" and we're all sick of it! He is partially responsible for that attack, isn't he since there was a precious attack and he was warned, and did nothing? Seems as if Bush was warned too, on his way in the door, about Bin Laden and a possible attack using planes, yet he did nothing either. Yeah, that's just what we need, more bluster and less intelligence-we'd be at war with Iran before you can blink.
    And just to set the record straight about the Lieberman amendment, it originally DID give Bush permission to declare war, but the version that Clinton approved does NOT. It was changed due to concern about that from a huge internet contingent who got thru to their Congresspeople. And Obama was so concerned about that vote that he didn't bother to show up. So quit bashing her for that one please! You should know that Bush thinks the Constitution is a silly piece of paper and he consistently makes signing statements on bills, giving him the right to ignore them. Yes sir, I love the Republicans-put money in their pockets any way they can, and the hell with the rest of the world. Just give a little smirk and reassure the stupid masses that they are there to save us from ourselves. Any more Republicans in the WH and we won't have a country left.

    October 17, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. Angela, Alexandria, VA

    Hillary refuses to appear on the top rated cable news program, "The O'Reilly Factor" for this very reason. The NY senator does not want to answer difficult questions. Jesse Jackson was treated respectfully when he recently appeared on 'The O'Reilly Factor'.

    THOMAS-I'm not a Hillary fan, but she was actually on Keith Olberman a few weeks ago. I dont blame her for not getting on the No Spin Zone, O'Reilly is a psychopath.

    October 17, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Sparky, Plano, Texas

    Here we go again! With the Clintons, it is not whether they do right versus wrong, but what they can get away with in life. This is a bad thing to teach our children. We need a break from the slime we have endured since January 20, 1993. Just say NO to Hillary in '08!

    October 17, 2007 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  15. Coach Haughton NH

    It makes me sad for the state of the Democratic party that people actually believe in the "vast right wing conspiracy" now renamed the "republican attack machine".

    It doesn't matter who did the investigation or how much money was money was spent. What matters is the truth in the evidence found.

    You guys who support the clintons no matter what might as well pray to them.

    October 17, 2007 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. Pete, Washington

    Mr. Cooper, The Clinton's REFUSE to discuss this story... Why?... All they say is that they (the Clinton campaign) do not comment about an 'unpopular' book. The have NOT denied the basic facts of this story.. Why?...The American people deserve to know whether or not this candidate engaged in unethical, or illegal activities...So, once and for all, can you do a 'Feature Story', interviewing all those named in this matter, check out the 'facts', and help the voters understand if these allegations are true, or not?....This story will come up again, and again, unless a respected journalist like yourself, has the courage to 'dig into' this issue, and lay to rest, the truth about the Clinton's role in this story. Who ordered the 'listening in' on telephone conversations, who did it, who did they 'spy' on, and if and how, did Hillary participate in this activity?...I think that the Clintons will welcome an honest and objective review of all the facts, and take away from the "Swiftboaters" an issue that will 'poison' the minds of the American voters, and help clear up the reputation of the Clintons... What say you, CNN?

    October 17, 2007 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. David, Gilbert Arizona

    I find it very telling that democrats are so quick to condemn George Bush for everything he does but pratically canonize Hillary Clinton despite the various scandals she has been involved in.

    She flip flops on important issues such as Iran. She first says she would not negotiate with Iran and blasts Obama as being naive and irresponsible when he said he would. During one of the debates Hillary says on camera, "I would engage in negotiations with Iran, with no conditions, because we don't really understand how Iran works."

    Of course her Iran flip flop pales in comparison to her speech on the Senate floor when voting to go to war in Iraq then years later saying, "If I knew then what I know now." Well Mrs. Clinton, why didn't your read the report before you voted to go to war?

    When Hillary is caught, once again, in a campaign finance scandal the democratic sheeple are more than happy to close their eyes and blindly follow Hillary down the garden path.

    When it came to torture of terrorist Hillary said in October 2006, "In the event we were ever confronted with having to interrogate a detainee with knowledge of an imminent threat to millions of Americans, then the decision to depart from standard international practices must be made by the President." When asked by Tim Russert if a Presidential exemption to allow torture in the face of imminent danger Hillary contradicts herself once again. "It cannot be American policy, period."

    If you read transcripts of Hillary Clinton's interviews when she is asked a question she invariable dances around the issue and then ends her monolog with a question. When she is asked whether or not the campaign has paid enough attention to education her response is, "I think we have to ask ourselves, is education working in the 21st century?" Well duh! What kind of answer is that? When she was asked to clarify her answer she again replies with a question, "Just because I sat in a classroom with my hands crossed on my desk and with the teacher in the front of the room telling me what I was supposed to learn, that's how we need to keep doing it year after year after year? So, I think that there are other reasons that people could point to, but it really comes down to how personally people feel about this issue." Uhh...What? Way to not answer yet another question Hillary.

    So now yet another skeleton comes out of the Clinton closet and yet again the democrats are quick to dismiss it. Had this article been about a republican candidate you can bet real money these same democrats would be ranting and raving and crying impeachment or. That is the true definition of hypocrisy.

    Bush lite indeed.

    October 17, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    "Zippity-do-dah, zippity-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day."

    The New York Times is certainly not part of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" now are they?

    The evil one Karl Rove is down in the dungeon as we speak, working on these TRUTHFUL ads, that will be called smear ads by the MSM, but there will be so much material from so many different sources, they will not be able to ignore the ONSLAUGHT.

    Biden/Obama are the best choice for the Democrats and they would be tough to beat, HillBilly on the other hand thanks to her self described co-presidency and scandal after scandal is goin' down, big-time.

    Think about that kids, she will tape a rivals conversation but not a terrorist that wants to kill all of us.

    Plenty of sunshine....

    October 17, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Zach Shreve Hawesville,Kentucky

    WOW!! let's see here there has been a number of thing's aimed at clinton and yet she is still at the top. I am all for a first girl president. She is not it if she win's in 2008 here I come canada. Everyone think's Bush is bad clinton will be 10x worse. Look at what her husband did. The clinton's are the worse polictican's in american history they need to let someone who can actually do the job win. I am thinking OBAMA will be great for the and it's sad to think that Clinton has a chnace of beating him. What is wrong with American's!

    October 17, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  20. Kuuipo, Bellefontaine, OH

    Geez...the mudslinging will never end. If this is true, Hillary should be imprisoned...not to mention the fact that she took money illegally from China (major lobbying action stopped there) or the fact that she had oh I dunno 8 years to reform Medicare and failed at it dramatically. Now she wants to touch health care? I don't think so. Let's see what else has the government done so far. Social Security is a joke now and probably won't be there when I am ready to retire. Medicaid is failing as of right now. The EIC tax is gone, but the tax raise that supported that stayed. Taxes were raised about 15 times since this group were elected in Congress. Bills are being put on the table that are of no importance (Genocide? C'mon, Immigration? NO!) Let's focus at what's important right now. Like getting America to trust government right now. I don't think anyone trusts government anymore because they lied too much. Pork barrel spending should be ceased. Break down the laws so that even common folks can read it and it makes sense (so that we can understand why taxes are being raised), let the people decide if Congress gets a pay raise (cause I see that is one of the issues that was bought to the table this month.) Vote for the person that is going to get the job done, not the person that you think should get it because of race, gender, etc.

    October 18, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    Tom - Dedham, Mass:

    You may have missed my response to your Tammy Wynette comment under the Sen. Clinton/Jeff Gerth posting. Here it is.

    You did mischaracterize Sen. Clinton's words to support your point. You either misquoted or paraphrased her wrongly. Furthermore, you left out the second part of her quote, either: (a) deliberately; (b) because you'd forgotten it; or (c) because your source, if you had one, had also left it out.

    Here's what you said that Mrs. Clinton said.

    "I would never "Stand by your man" like that Tammy Wynette did"

    Then you commented: "actually you, [Mrs. Clinton] did stand by your man, turned a blind eye and all for political expedience."

    The combination of your misquote or misleading paraphrase of Mrs. Clinton's words and your comment, strongly implies that Mrs. Clinton PROMISED that she "would never" (I'm quoting YOU here) stay with Bill Clinton if he cheated, but then did stay with him after she actually caught him cheating, thereby breaking her promise out of "political expedience" (I'm quoting you again).

    But the actual quote, which you gave in your 10/17/07, 3:12 pm post (good for you) is: "I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette." This statement is not a promise of Mrs. Clinton’s future conduct. Instead, it is a prelude to explaining her real reasons for staying in the marriage. "I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him and I honor what we've been through together. If that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him." Because she wasn’t making a promise here, she couldn’t have broken it later and therefore your implication that she was being dishonest was unwarranted. (Later, when you quoted Mrs. Clinton accurately, you altered your posture from an attack on her honesty to one on her strength. However, some people find sticking to one’s convictions and marriage even in the face of serious challenges to be a proof of fortitude, rather than a sign of weakness.)

    The reason she apologized for her remarks wasn't because she had been dishonest (the point of your first post), or because she was a weak woman pretending to be strong (the point of your second, I suppose). She apologized because she referred to Ms. Wynette personally, rather than confining her remarks to Ms. Wynette’s song, thereby hurting Ms. Wynette’s feelings. I freely confess that I don't know what you mean by "see[ing] it the right way," or what part the reference to Mrs. Clinton’s apology to Ms. Wynette is supposed to play in buttressing your argument.

    I'm also not entirely certain what you mean by “word-play[ing]” or “hoping for nuance,” but, as I've demonstrated, there is a significant difference between what you said Mrs. Clinton said and what she actually said. By changing Mrs. Clinton’s “not” to your “never,” you twisted her words from a statement explaining why she was staying with her husband into a promise that she wouldn't should he prove unfaithful. A promise that you then convict her of breaking. The charitable explanation for the discrepancy between her words and yours,’ is that you thought (without checking) that you were paraphrasing a quote that supports your perpetual proposition that Sen. Clinton is a self-serving liar. But regardless of how it happened, this mischaracterization is stark, not nuanced and is very serious stuff for a man who has no patience with even minor misstatements and obviously prides himself on his unimpeachable integrity.

    Given your past record, I would seem to be in absolutely no danger of being presented with a tape of Sen. Clinton robbing a bank ...," or any other irrefutable evidence of her “guilt.” At least, not by you.

    P.S. I cannot blame you at all for not wishing to write to me any more. However, when I address your comments using your name, personal communication with you is, at best, a secondary consideration. First and foremost, I want to identify the source of what I consider misinformation, poor logic etc., and then make what corrections I can. Of course, using your name makes it easier for you to give a crisp, logical rebuttal to my arguments. In the circumstances, however, I suppose I don’t blame you for not taking advantage of the opportunity. I will continue to use your name when I disagree with your comments but I urge you not to take the matter personally.

    October 18, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  22. Jon Paugh, Louisville, KY

    Ok, lets take a look at what pres Clinton accomplished. He fought a war and crippled the Iraq air force (which was one of the best in the 90') making it easier to invade Iraq during Bush's war. Huge surpluses of money for the last 2 years in his tenure. Minimum wage was increased. Back on point, Sen. Clinton has made a name for herself. She is a hard working and driven person. No matter who the contender will be for the Democratic candidate the smears will be the same from the GOP. Obama is quite a bit less experienced and talks a good talk, but fails when it comes to a plan to get it in place. The presidency doesnt come with a magic wand and a easy button. I like Obama, but he needs to spend more time in politics before going straight to the head of the class.

    October 18, 2007 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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