October 16th, 2007
07:45 PM ET
7 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. Marc M. Monroe, GA

    Allegation: noun, unproved assertion: an assertion, especially relating to wrongdoing or misconduct on somebody's part, that has yet to be proved or supported by evidence.

    Please continue with the dusty ol' play book Freepers...all the way to Nov. 2008, I'm ready for another Clinton renaissance.

    October 16, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  2. Raman, Plano TX

    Well compared to the record amount of illegal information sharing that is rampant from today's loosely managed data centers in and outside US, it should be least worrisome that a person in power just happened to tap a phone call.

    I am surprised by the fact that people across the globe just happen to have precise information about my cholesterol readings.

    I think the security apparatus of Bs and Ms of this world would find it impossible to protect their clientele, were they denied ready access to critical information on anyone on this earth.

    In such an environment, Republican's stand such as this is not only absurd, but downright laughable.

    Today, Verizon released official statistics on the amount of data it shared with law enforcement. Nothing wrong with sharing information with Law enforcement.

    What Verizon, AT&T and Sprint et el do not disclose is how much (almost incalculable) data their data center employees are sharing with anyone and everyone out there in the world.

    To most people this may sound an accusation, but that is the reality of the world envisaged by likes of Bill Gates et el.

    In fact today Bill Gates is proud to annouce a product that can accurately track you down if you happen not to answer your phonecall. Lot of good this does to anti-social elements of this world.

    Republicans and democrats would do well to rethink how critical services are being managed in this country.

    October 16, 2007 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  3. Angela, wpb, fl

    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.

    October 16, 2007 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  4. Kent, Madison WI

    To James in AZ:

    Nice to know that clowns like you buy all that these authors are saying. Do your homework!! These two authors are notorious for not backing up their allegations with facts.

    Where's your website references for this one?

    October 17, 2007 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  5. ABB

    Has it occured to anyone that it is one thing to accuse someone of doing something and another thing entirely to prove they did it. If the Republicans could prove Hillary Clinton did what they accuse her of doing they certainly would do so, don't you think? But so far, they have done nothing but accuse her. They have offered no proof to back up their claims. And without proof they have no case.

    October 17, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  6. Sally Nashville TN

    Hillary should be a Republican

    October 17, 2007 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  7. Laura - Tulsa OK

    Here's another totally distracting, totally off topic post that has nothing to do with what these candidates have to offer in the way of experience. Shouldn't we "unclutter" our lives and brains by focusing on which candidate has the best experience. It could be so simple...

    October 17, 2007 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  8. Bea, Hoboken, NJ

    Oh boy, the attack machine already started!!!! Is the RNC so desperate that they are hanging on to unproven rumors from an anonymous source in one of the dozens of books written about Hillary????

    The Republicans have no decent candidate and this is what the party comes up with to try to slow down sen. Clinton????? Pathetic!!!

    October 17, 2007 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  9. Diane, NYC, NY

    You have to at least give credit to CNN for posting this story – it doesn't seem to have hit the NY Times and other liberal media outlets yet.

    To Dan S who seems to think the right wing has never successfully proven their meritless allegations against the Clintons – actually, they did.

    Former President Clinton was found guilty of lying under oath (and thus impeached), the same thing they put Martha Stewart in prison for. Mrs Clinton has only escaped this charge numerous times because she has a spectacularly bad memory (rather than outright lying, she simply says "I don't recall"). I suspect her campaign won't recall anything about eavesdropping, either, and that her former position on wiretapping will now start to change on a daily basis.

    October 17, 2007 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  10. AnaHadWolves, Philadelphia, PA, USA

    Oh, I am so pleased that the Repooplicans have dredged up half-truths and un-truths from 15 years ago in their mad rush to attempt to tarnish Hillary.

    Remember the old adage about glass houses? Don't you think that we on the other side have done our homework on Giuliani and abortion/gays/anti-NRA, on Thompson on his legal work on behalf of pro-abortion groups, on Romney and his illegal use of non-profit Mormon Temples to raise money for him and others?

    This isn't 2004 when the "SwiftBoat" crowd slimed Kerry at will. This time, we fight back...and, brother, do we have the ammo we need!

    As Dubya said..."Bring it on!"

    October 17, 2007 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  11. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    Hmmm...let's see...

    Had this charge been made against Laura Bush or Barbara Bush, would CNN have stated "DEMOCRATS SEIZE ON BUSH EAVESDROPPING ALLEGATION"?

    We all know the answer to that question.

    I would NOT vote for Hillary because I have no idea what her core values are (besides an unquenchable thirst for power). She never answers specific questions presented by the media.

    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'.

    During an interview with Hannity this week, Guliani stated that Hillary has never been responsible for millions, or even hundreds of people. She's never run a city nor a state, and during these problematic times, we do not need on the job training in the executive branch of government. Very thought provoking comments, indeed.

    I'd rather see Al Gore win the Democratic nomination than Hillary. The thought of President Hillary is terrifying.

    October 17, 2007 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  12. Beck Carthage, Mo

    Just more garbage from the lunatic fringe in the republican party. Ken Starr spent 50 million on these witch hunts and no charges. So get over it!The Clintons are probably the most investigated people in history and probably the cleanest. Spend 50 million investigating Bush and his entire administration would be in jail. Just because some idiot writes a book, does not make it true.

    October 17, 2007 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  13. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    The 'Freedom of Speech' police at CNN removed these comments, which I posted earlier this morning:

    Hmmm...let's see...

    Had this charge been made against Laura Bush or Barbara Bush, would CNN have stated "DEMOCRATS SEIZE ON BUSH EAVESDROPPING ALLEGATION"?

    We all know the answer to that question.

    I would NOT vote for Hillary because I have no idea what her core values are (besides an unquenchable thirst for power). She never answers specific questions presented by the media.

    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'.

    During an interview with Hannity this week, Guliani stated that Hillary has never been responsible for millions, or even hundreds of people. She's never run a city nor a state, and during these problematic times, we do not need on the job training in the executive branch of government. Very thought provoking comments, indeed.

    I'd rather see Al Gore win the Democratic nomination than Hillary. The thought of President Hillary is terrifying.

    October 17, 2007 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  14. Erie

    The republican sewer is all about personal attack. Lee Atwater started these smear tactics and it's been going on in every election since. The RNC and their right wing water carriers put out these stories and they get repeated over and over and over again. ONE THING FOR SURE, YOU CAN'T BELIEVE A SINGLE WORD THAT SPEWS OUT OF ANY REPUBLICAN'S MOUTH!!!!!What they don't seem to get is the public is not buying their policies and the politics of personal distruction plan is not going to fly this time. THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH FOR REPUBLICANS IS THEY HAVE TO LIE TO GET ELECTED.

    October 17, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  15. Mike Griffith, Woodbridge, VA

    It's amazing to see people dismissing this allegation about eavesdropping as a "dumb attack." I guess liberals are only worried about protecting civil liberties when it comes to efforts to intercept phone calls between Americans and terrorist suspects overseas.

    October 17, 2007 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  16. Mr. T

    What happen to innocent until proven guilty. Where's the proof?

    October 17, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  17. Tom Zipp, New York

    I would like to thank the republicans for acting like little girls with a skinned knee. The republicans failed policies have driven them to rediculous tacticts like this. George Bush and the republicans have ruined this country, taken away our privacy, started 2 wars and want to start a 3rd. If Guiliani becomes presidnet im moving to Canada. If Bush and Guiliani had and intelligence contest neither would win, because they are both equally as ignorant, arrangant, bought and paid for, miserable excuse for human beings

    October 17, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. Michael, Carbondale, Kansas

    You supposed Democrats need to stop wasting time and energy sniping at each other. It's time to get behind Hillary and focus your efforts on battling the Republican lie and smear machine.

    October 17, 2007 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  19. Mary

    This is case and point why Hillary is the worst possible choice for the Democratic party. Whether or not these allegations are true, this is exactly the kind of battle the Clintons will again be facing continually. Our country cannot afford eight more years of mudslinging. The problems are too big and the stakes too high. A Hillary nomination will be a fiasco. It is exactly what the Republican party wants. They can villify her and distract the public from the real issues. Using Hillary-Hatred and fear they will succeed in dividing and conquering once again.

    October 17, 2007 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Come on fellow Conservatives. If this is the best we can do, we're in trouble.

    HRC has so many obvious, outright flaws and bad policy ideas to exploit, there is really no need to dig up 15 year old supposed he-said-she-said dirt... dirt which no one could actually prove now anyway.

    This broad is an easy target just with things she has done and said in the media. I can already envision many versions of great ads that showcasing HRC as the scheming, calculating person she truly is.

    Let's not embarrass ourselves with such dirt-digging, muckraking, yellow-journalism nonsense. Leave that to the Move.On.orgs of the world and other people who are clearly below us.

    Elections are not a big mud-slinging competition, folks (or at least they shouldn't be). It doesn't have to be ugly. This is simply an opportunity to point out who has the better leadership qualities to lead this nation and solve problems (and have the common sense to recognize which problems are "personal problems" which simply cannot be solved by the government).

    Hillary says she wants everything equal for everyone. But that's not entirely truthful. While we all want equal OPPORTUNITIES (which we have), Hillary wants to legislate equal OUTCOMES in life. And that folks, cannot be legislated, as it is entirely dependent upon the motivation of each individual.

    October 17, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. Megha, San Antonio, TX

    We know this was going to happen, GOP now understands that Hillary will be the democratic nominee and they are really scared that she will actually beat the hell our of Guiliani, who has no idea of what a presidency means, who just happened to be luncky that the unfortunate 9/11 occured during his mayorship. So as a result, the republicans will do everything to stop her, they know very well it will be in-vain, but they will still try. Since they have nothing to say about her credentials or policies, they can come up with nothing better than this sensless gabble. So good luck GOP, this is what we expect from you-dirty, mudslinging. This kind of dirty playing only reinforces the fact that Hillary will be a great president.

    October 17, 2007 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. Ben, Columbus, OH

    If Barack or any other candidate supporters think that the Republican's are not going to do the same thing- "LIE and SPIN" – against any other democrat nominee, you have your head buried in the sand, you are naive, and living in an ideal fantasy world. Hillary has proven to be able to beat them, and, that quite well!!!!

    October 17, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  23. Lou Dobbs, Plano TX

    Anyone remember Larry Craig, the man with the Republican family values?! Republicans need to stop pretending to be religious and start apologizing for their misdeeds!

    October 17, 2007 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  24. spinstopper

    Challenging illegally wiretapping activities has suddenly become a dumb senseless right wing attack method that CNN is not interested in.
    Thank you for that biased report CNN, at least consistency is a good quality...

    October 17, 2007 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. Mark R. Fort Lauderdale FL

    I don't know what's worse; the right wing trying to dig up or rehash anything they can about Ms. Clinton, or the hate-mongers who post on these threads with such maliciousness. I guarantee she's made some mistakes in the past just like all of us. She's lived a life of public service and has clear ideas about how to help our country out of the mess we're in. Her poll numbers keep rising because people are takig a second look and realizing she is not this demon that the right wing has painted. She is caring, compassionate, intelligent,, and I hope she's going to be our next president.

    October 17, 2007 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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