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. Lance in Monrovia CA

    What Hillary is going to face again and again is dumb, senseless attacks like this one. I'm tired of everybody under the sun pulling out the skeleton of the day to attack her with.

    Which is exactly why I'm supporting Barack Obama. He has historically brought people together while Hillary remains the most divisive, polarizing figure of modern history.

    But that still doesn't change the fact that this is a dumb attack. C'mon...

    October 16, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. Lance in Monrovia CA

    "called upon the Arkansas Attorney General to investigate."

    For all those not paying attention, this is exactly why Rove wanted Tim Griffen, his buddy, to replace David Eglasis as U.S. attorney in Arkansas, so that they could throw Clinton under the bus with bogus investigations whenever they wanted. The RNC has been stacking the deck with illegal investigations against Democrats since at least 2006. One lawyer in Missisipi is sitting in jail now for doing nothing more than raising a bunch of money for John Edwards in 2004.

    This is typical Republican bogus cheating. It's also why I'm supporting Barack Obama. It's so plainly obvious to anyone paying attention that they are attacking Hillary to rally their base, to get people fired up against her because she's the only candidate they have the history to do this to.

    Please, any sane people out there, support Barack Obama and let this madness end. He'll actually clean up Washington and get rid of all these idiots.

    October 16, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. Sarah

    Let's begin a list.

    1. Mark Penn represents Blackwater.
    2. Sandy Berger is advising Hillary.
    3. Hillary listens to illegally obtained recordings of cell phone conversations.
    4. Hillary supported Kyl-Lieberman.
    5. Hillary voted for the Iran war.
    6. Hillary gutted a plan that would have provided more AIDS funds to black communities in the south.

    And she leads in the polls when we actually have an amazing opportunity in the democratic party by the name of Barack Obama.

    Can someone wake me up when this nightmare is over?

    October 16, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  4. James, Phoenix AZ

    What should be SHOCKING about this story? Hillary eavesdropped on intercepted phone calls – nothing new for her.

    Was it shocking when FBI files of Clinton opponents were found in the White House?

    Was it shocking Hillary contacted former FBI agent and Private investigator (Ivan Duda) to track down Bill Clinton's "women" so she could shut them up (this after Bill lost the Governor's race)?

    Was it shocking when Hillary was cited as the reason White House travel office employees were inappropriately fired (then rehired back after public scrutiny)?

    Was it shocking when we learned Hillary claimed to be unaware of who Norman Hsu was... later to learn he was an elite group of "Hillraisers", had a nice photo op with Hillary, and illegally raised $850,000??

    Come on people – who's really shocked???

    Why would it be shocking –

    October 16, 2007 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. RightyTIghty

    Bush lite and you can do nothing to stop it.. Ha Ha!!

    October 16, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  6. JB Boston MA

    Come on CNN-

    Look at the language, "attack" "coordinate" "attack" "orchestrated"

    These are leading words that are never found in any Hillary "attack" posts.

    You should know better. At least try to hide it a bit more. We are smarter. Or at least som of us are.

    October 16, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  7. Henry Tucker, Ga

    I love the way you, CNN, couch your depiction of this as a "coordinated effort", "orchestrated attack", "GOP strategy to attack Sen Clinton", "Coordinated by the RNC", etc.

    In fact there is MORE examination by your article, CNN, on the GOP approach than the actual issue: Hillary eavesdropping on opponent phone calls.

    Nice job, CNN. Why don't you just run another sex-story about Larry Craig? You do that oh-so well.

    October 16, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. Danny G. Boca Raton, FL

    Well we know the Republicans will stop at nothing in attempts to trow mud at Sen. Clinton. but is anyone surprised? She is poised, articulate, people are beginning to realize she is a force to recon with... I bet you they are thinking "if she had only served in the military, maybe next to Sen. Kerry, maybe we could use the swift boat mercenaries again" if only...

    October 16, 2007 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Amy

    It's about time this was looked into. How about the comments made that she had the IRS investigate the people that accused her husband of raping other women. Then she was supposed to have had them treatened if they pursued the charges. There is so much more in "Hillary's Scheme" by Carl Limbacher, not to mention all over the internet. The Vince Foster scandel, the White House Travel Office, and on and on. Do we need this in the White House again? How about the stories about the Clinton's cleaning out Air Force One the last time they traveled in it and taking furniture from the White House. Gee, I hope the IRS doesn't investigate me now. Again, is this what we need back in the White House.

    October 16, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. beth,manchester,nh

    I knew she was!

    October 16, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. Kim, Peabody MA

    When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.

    -Proverbs 28:2

    What can you expect from one who touts herself as being so called Progressive? But in reality she is truly self-serving and a power monger – communicating any lie that will ensure her election.

    Hillary is the modern day Jezebel…

    The above article only illustrates the deep rooted corruption that is at the highest levels of leadership and includes BOTH Democrats AND Republicans.

    This nation needs a strong leader that will add balance to the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branch of our Government and who will Defend the Constitution from the Tyranny being exacted upon it by many of our current leaders.

    That is Why I am Voting for Independent Pete Grasso…


    I really like the article Mr. Grasso posted regarding Praying for Our Nation. It reveals his passion and heart for our Nation. I would dare any presidential candidate to be so open and true. Check out: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewpoetry.asp?id=188611

    October 16, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. LinnieFB, Corona, CA

    And so it starts....

    October 16, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Lorenz, Queens, New York

    Hillary is a lier, most recently she voted for the kyle/lieberman act yet she doesn't want to go to war... Don't trust this fool.

    October 16, 2007 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  14. Sian, LA, CA

    This is more evidence why the democratic party is intrinsically corrupt and unable to govern effectively. The front runner of the democrats – who support the privacy of those who call terrorists – clearly does not support the privacy of American citizens who just happen to be her political opponents. Seriously, if someone was talking to Osama Bin Laden, wouldn't we want to eavedrop on the conversation? But as far as the democrats are concerned, we need to not renew the patriot act unconditionally because we might violate that person's privacy. However, its perfectly fine to violate the privacy of republicans and figure out their fundraising strategy. How sick, how disoriented the priorities of the liberal.

    October 16, 2007 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. Kevin dr inlet fla

    This Lady scares the carp out of me she is so full of her self. I can't belive that there are people out there that think she should be the president.

    October 16, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. Axel, RKDA, California

    Here we go again with the same old War Cry that the Republicans have been using since the early 1990's... Clinton had sex!

    If his wife doesn't have a problem with it, then I ask you... Who cares? If the Republicans think it is so immoral for men to have affairs, then why are they supporting Rudy Giuliani? I know, I know... The Republican's "Do as we say, not as we do" policy.

    October 16, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  17. Dan S.

    I think this is just a precursor of more to come from the desperate Republican machine that has been attacking the Clintons for 20 years. Anyone who has followed this tragic course can tell you that the right wing has NEVER successfully proven any of the meritless allegations they've thrown out in an attempt to sway people against the Clintons' progressive agenda.

    I, for one, am sick to death of the constant attacks. Why don't they focus more on communicating their own agenda instead of wasting so much energy on trying to tear down Hillary. The truth is they are scared to death that their attack machine is not working and that the more people learn about Hillary, the more inclined they are to support her! Just look at the poll numbers - no one is coming close to her.

    So wake up Republicans! It's a new day in America and we're all sick of your tired and wasted tactics. Just deal with the fact that Hillary Clinton is a smart, articulate and capable leader. Stop lashing out and try to find someone who might have a chance at giving her a run for her money - so far that doesn't seem to be happening.

    October 16, 2007 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Keith, Chicago

    I am fairly liberal but I will NEVER vote for Clinton in 2008. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if these allegations were true, and I'm also not surprised that CNN, which has been blatantly biased towards Clinton in this election, is trying to spin this story as Clinton being the poor, innocent victim of an "orchestrated attack". I may be a fairly liberal democrat, but it has become clear to me in recent months that CNN is no less biased than Fox News – and that's saying a lot! Their lack of journalistic integrity in being so biased towards Clinton and spinning every single story in her favor is disgusting(eg – she has a slight edge in cash on hand over Obama and CNN somehow gives the impression that because of this slight edge, Clinton's nomination is now inevitable while Obama's is going down the tubes).

    CNN can prop up Clinton all they want...but it will be an amazing story (and CNN will be greatly surpised) when Obama's ridiculously strong grassroots campaign helps Obama beat Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

    October 16, 2007 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. historybuff

    What was Watergate about again? Why did Richard Nixon resign??

    October 16, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. Carmen, Miami FL

    This really doesn't seem like it's going to stop her momentum. More than anything, it's like Republicans are trying to throw anything and everything at her to see if anything will stick, especially because this allegedly happened 15 years ago. I think the public's going to view this as them desperately grasping at straws (which it really is).

    Honestly, it seems like Republicans don't get that they're going to have to step it up with the issues instead of the scandals.

    October 16, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  21. Jack Snyder, Ft. Myers, FL

    Wow! Has this story actually been proven true or substantiated in any way or is it just what these two authors are saying? If it is true, this should definitely be investigated and will most likely bring down the Clinton campaign. But I will wait to pass judgement until I know there is substantial evidence that she in fact did this.

    October 16, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  22. Sian, LA CA

    I totally agree. This article by CNN and by all the liberal news media is quite biased. Where is the outrage about the inappropriate and abusive use of power by the Clintons? The democrats rave against eavedropping, helping the working class, and corruption...and then they stab everyone in the back. They support the wrong type of eavedropping (on political opponents, not terrorists or those talking to terrorists). They fire employees for political purposes – those employees sort of had families you know. And then to top it off, they accept illegal money and get special favors (aka adultery). What example of morality does the democratic party have to offer?

    But lets talk more about the bias of CNN. What's up with all the news articles about the "failed" war in Iraq? Why isn't there more focus on our successes there? On our victories in curbing terrorism? And where did Afghanistan go? Surely, the war isn't that much more terrible in Iraq than it is in Afghanistan. And we got to remember, our wars are necessary to protect us from the evil terrorists who do not respect the sanctity of human life. We leave any war (like the cut and run democrats are proposing), and we'll only help the enemy. Leave Afghanistan and the Taliban will regain power. Leave Iraq and a new terrorist sponsoring fundamentalist government will rise. This will lead to increased number of American dead on our own soil instead of overseas.

    October 16, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  23. Pete, Washington

    How can Hillary get away with this illegal act?... Is this what we want from our next president?... And you folks in the media claim she has run a perfect campaign?...How much longer will the media and the Clinton supporters 'bury their heads in the sand' and pretend all these things did NOT happen....Hillary's folks refer to us as 'Hillary-Haters' because we question her ties to Norman Hsu, her flip-flop on Iran, her vote FOR the Iraq War her connection to the Blackwater people, her hiring a convicted thief who stole terrorism documents to be one of her trusted advisors, etc. As a candidate you are accountable to the American people if you want their support. How can you expect us to support you if you refuse to be open an honest with us? For example, why does Hillary refuse to release her 'earmarks' and her 2006 tax returns. Barack Obama released his, obviously he doesn't have anything to hide, does Hillary?...And now, this 'spying' on your political opponents scandal. It's not that we 'hate' Hillary, we just can't trust her....Tell the truth, if this story was about Rudy, Edwards, Barack, or Mitt, their candidacy WOULD BE OVER, and the Hillary Machine would be screaming the loudest...I'll bet the media lets this story die, beause the Clinton's have very powerful 'friends'. Just like the media 'buried' the GQ article that Bill Clinton did not want published.

    We are in the last year of a president who believes it OK to spy on Americans, do we want ANOTHER president who is willing to spy on her opponents? Come to think of it, isn't that what 'Watergate' and Nixon's 'thugs' were doing? Is Hillary going to tell us.."I am not a crook"?

    October 16, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. S.B. L.A. Ca.

    You HRC people must be brain dead. You don't see anything wrong with all this crap people are digging up on your candidate. is it true that most of America are mindless sheeple. i can't believe you are actually trying to defend this woman.

    October 16, 2007 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  25. Frank Virginia Beach VA

    Didn't President Nixon lose the White House for the same thing that Hillary did here?

    October 16, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
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