February 12th, 2014
08:26 AM ET
8 months ago

First on CNN–Confidant’s diary: Clinton wanted to keep records for ‘revenge'

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Fayetteville, Arkansas (CNN) - Shortly before Hillary Clinton’s effort to pass health care reform died in the summer of 1994, the first lady asked a close friend and confidant for advice on “how best to preserve her general memories of the administration and of health care in particular.”

When asked why, according to the friend’s June 20, 1994, diary entry, Clinton said, “Revenge.”


That exchange is among thousands of pages of notes, letters, and diary entries penned by Diane Blair, a political science professor and longtime Clinton friend whose papers were donated to the University of Arkansas after her death in 2000.

Blair worked on Bill Clinton’s two presidential campaigns and advised the president and first lady throughout their eight years in the White House. In particular, she was very close with Hillary Clinton, who called Blair her “closest friend” in her 2003 memoir “Living History.”

Blair’s notes from 1994 and 1995 shed light on Clinton as first lady, especially her persistent interest in recording her and her closest advisers’ accounts of their time at the White House in order to both tell her own story as well as document what she saw as the truth.

Blair Papers offer window into Hillary Clinton

In the same June 20 entry, Blair wrote that Clinton also wanted to record her staff’s insights “just to get it down while still fresh, so when everyone else is writing their books, she will have materials - dates, meetings, events, to write hers, and for at least that story to be told.”

Blair Papers 4

Bill Clinton in 1979 with Hillary Clinton (L) and Diane Blair (R). Courtesy: University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections

According to the documents, this desire was especially strong because Clinton seemed to harbor a deep distrust of the media.

Blair wrote in June 1994 that Clinton regretted speaking to the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, whose book “The Agenda,” chronicling the early days of the Clinton White House, had just hit bookstores days earlier.

“She said twice or more that she now regrets having spoken to Woodward, said she felt she had to [because] he was writing it anyway; I guess that’s his schtick,” Blair wrote.

That sentiment continued later into Clinton’s time as first lady.

In January 1995, Blair writes that Clinton expressed “her total exasperation with all this obsession and attention, and how hard she’s finding to conceal her contempt for it all.”

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On Thanksgiving Day 1996, Blair wrote that Clinton thought the press were “complete hypocrites.”

“Say they want the truth, want power to be transparent, but in fact they prefer the backstage manipulation of B. Bush, N. Reagan, B. Truman, R. Carter,” Blair wrote, listing several former first ladies. “On her death bed, wants to be able to say she was true to herself and is not going to do phoney makeovers to please others.”

The distrust of the media caused Clinton to have legacy concerns for both herself and her husband’s White House, according to the Blair documents.

Blair wrote in January 1995 that she had a “lengthy” conversation with Clinton about “how history can ever be written when those who do the contemporary stuff are so wrong.”

“She said there was hardly a news story that she couldn’t totally refute,” Blair wrote. “How does one arrive at the truth… So where (sic) will be her story.”

Documents reveal Clinton’s private reaction to her husband's scandal with Lewinsky

Despite these legacy fears, Blair wrote that Clinton was hardly eager to record her thoughts and memories of her time in the White House.

“She told me she does not keep a diary and thinks it best not to keep one,” Blair wrote about Clinton in June 1994.

Blair later wrote in January of 1995 that Clinton said “she dare not… keep records of inti9mate (sic) thoughts and conversations” for fear of “subpoenas.”

CNN has confirmed the documents are authentic and has reached out to a spokesman for Hillary Clinton, who has not responded. There is no way to independently confirm the accuracy of Blair's specific recollections and direct quotations of the Clintons.

The Blair documents made news earlier this week when the Washington Free Beacon reported that Clinton told Blair that Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with Bill Clinton, was a “narcissistic loony toon.”


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (330 Responses)
  1. THR

    OH please. All politicians who survive at the national level do this. Don't be naïve. This is just the standard pre-emptive strike tell-all that both parties do in order to try to "take out" the competing party's leading candidate.
    On the other hand though, "WHAT does it MATTER!???"

    February 13, 2014 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  2. mojoquasi

    And we're supposed to take Diane Blair's word for it, right? I mean, she wouldn't shade the truth for any reason now would she. Certainly not for attention, or notoriety, money, or anything else, because she's a dear old friend and all she wants is what's best for Hillary. And we should take whatever she wrote as gospel truth because she's dead now. Yeah right.

    February 13, 2014 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  3. MaggieHeyoka

    I see the narrative is already being set up. Hillary also capable of revenge so don't blame Cristie..... But is this seriously all they could come up with?

    February 13, 2014 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  4. Robert

    Hillary wants power. Period. She doesn't care what she has to do to get it. Including staying "married' to a man who cheats on her constantly.

    February 13, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  5. District Nine

    I have been trying to figure out why Hilary was never concerned about Bill's infidelities. Maybe this was a Lavender Marriage, she being a lesbian? Perhaps a mild case of Asperger's? I have no idea.

    February 13, 2014 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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