February 28th, 2014
02:36 PM ET
9 months ago

What we found in the Clinton documents

CNN is combing through 3,546 pages of documents released Friday by the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

They open a window into inner Clinton White House operations, and cover topics including the office of former first lady Hillary Clinton, now considered the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, if she decides to run.

View the documents

Here are some highlights:

Oh, the 90s: An August 1995 memo from Lisa Caputo on "HRC media possibilities" recommends the first lady reach out to young women "through Internet" and make a guest appearance on ABC's "Home Improvement."

Read the memo

"Internet - As Karen has said, Internet has become a yery popular mode of communication. Hillary could speak to young women through Internet. I think Hillary would have fun with this, and I believe it would: not be too difficult to organize."

"If Hillary is comfortable throwing a big party, we could give a wonderful photo spread to People magazine of photos from the party coupled with old photos of their honeymoon and/or special moments for them over the past 20 years."

"ABC Home·Improvement –I know this may sound like a wild idea, but I think it is an interesting one to discuss. Rick Kaplan brought to my attention that Home Improvement would veryI much like to have Hillary. make a guest appearance on its show."

"Hillaryland Staff.Outreach to Media– I am dining out regularly with members of the White House press corps for: lunch and diriner ~hich I think is helpful to Hillary. I think ~t would be even better for Hillary if you, Melanne, Ann Stock, Ann Lewis, Lissa and Neel could carve out so:ine time in your schedule~ to socialize·more with the media. I think that the more of us who are out there informally and socially with the press the better it is for Hillary."

An eerily familiar prediction: Todd Stern, White House staff secretary, offers a critique on health care messaging as aides were preparing for the 1994 State of the Union address. Read the memo

"We have a line on p. 10 that. says "You'll pick the health plan and the doctor of your choice." This sounds great and I know that it's just what people want to hear.. But can we get away with it? Isn't the whole thrust of our health plan to steer people toward cheaper, HMO-style providers? It's one thinq to say we'll preserve your option to pick ·the doctor of your choice (recognizing that this will cost more), it's quite another to appear to promise the nation that everyone will get to pick the doctor of his or her choice. And that's exactly what this line does. I am very worried about getting skewered for overpromising here on something we know full well.we won't deliver."

It's unclear whether Bill or Hillary Clinton saw the memo. President Barack Obama infamously went on to promise voters they'd be able to keep their doctors under Obamacare, which turned out not to be accurate.

Journalist list: Hillary Clinton’s press secretary pushed for an aggressive schedule of media events and interviews to highlight her positions and appeal to women around a trip to China and Mongolia in 1995. The aide, Lisa Caputo, also provided the former first lady with a rundown of journalists coming on the trip that included assessments of their work, noting most had done positive stories about Clinton.

View the list

A hard sell: Hillary Clinton told Democratic leaders in Congress in 1993 that a Republican alternative to require people to get health insurance - the individual mandate at the heart of Obamacare 17 years later - would be "a much harder sell" for her husband's administration than its ultimately defeated proposal requiring employers to provide health coverage for workers, according to a memo on the meeting.

Health care–'horror stories and White House 'aura': During Hillary Clinton's push for health care in 1993, the first lady hit the road and conducted a number of health care summits across the country. The meetings were considered a key to Clinton's push for health care reform.

In a February 5, 1993 memo from John Hart – an aide to then-President Bill Clinton – the strategy for these meetings were discussed in detail.

The memo, which went to the first lady and Ira Magaziner, Clinton's partner in pushing health care reform, shows the lengths that the administration went to orchestrate these events.

"The summit would be a two day event structured similarly to the economic summit except with Mrs. Clinton running it," Hart writes. "his should be an event where the average people,dealing with the health crisis get their chance to speak up."

Hart continues, "There should be at least two or three people with specific horror stories, but there should also be several middle class people with decent benefits who are feeling squeezed and worried."

In the same memo, the presidential adviser outlines how to use the "aura" of the White House to push the bill.

Hart says White House staff should meet with certain stakeholders, like "the major insurance companies," "small and medium sized insurance companies" and "healthcare workers" to try and solicit input on the final bill.

"Although the transition met with all of these kinds of groups, it is different being invited to a White House briefing, and we should take advantage of that aura to build on the transition work," Hart writes.

Clinton insecurity?: Beyond the whimsical doodlings of speechwriter Jeff Shesol, his notes show that before his commencement speech at MIT in 1998, Bill Clinton was extremely concerned he would be “overshadowed” and “shown up” by the an AIDS researcher also scheduled to speak to graduates.

The notes, which include typed memos, handwritten musings, and the doodles, twice appear to mention the President’s nervousness days before the speech.

“He’s nervous about sp., nervous about policy, worried he’ll be shown up by Dr. Soo”

Dr. Soo, it seems logical to guess, refers to Dr. David Ho, the AIDS researcher who also addressed the lass of ’98. Read more about the address Here.

At another point in the documents, there are notes that appear to be written down after a conversation with a woman named Betty – the last name is not clearly distinguishable.

The idea put forward in the notes is that the President has no problem giving a speech that would bump the AIDS researcher – it’s not entirely clear what is meant by “bumping." But if they’re going to bump, the speech should be a high enough caliber.

“Pres. has concerns Dr. Soo MIT AIDs Dr. Concerned about bumping or being overshadowed sp. must be caliber to warrant dumping. you and gs should write memo.”

Much preparation went into the President’s speech and there were at least four strategy sessions among speechwriters in the weeks leading up to it.

“We never give him a chance to be big,” according to a meeting participant identified in the notes as “GS.”

At another point, notes after a conversation with the President suggest he thought the idea of setting a goal to put a computer in every home was “small / a dick morris idea.”

Style pointers: Mandy Grunwald wrote Hillary Clinton a memo July 6, 1999 "re: Key Points to Remember for the Trip." The memo seems to be in regard to a listening tour the then-first lady did in New York following her creation of an exploratory committee for a Senate bid.

View the memo

Some "style pointers" included:

"Don't be defensive. Look like you want the questions. The press is obviously watching to see if they can make you uncomfortable or testy. Even on the annoying questions, give relaxed answers.

Look for opportunities for humor. It's important that people see more sides of you, and they often see you only in very stern situations.

Don't use the Administrations record as your own: You've spent a lot of years saying, "My husband did X". This trip is about you. And you are not an incumbent. If you want to talk about something like CHIP, talk about what you did.

Also Grunwald lists a question "you might prepare for"

"Have you ever used drugs?"

FOIA Requests: The previously secret Clinton White House documents released Friday were generated by Freedom of Information Act Requests. What follows is list of those requests and an outline of what information was released in response.

FOIA 2006-0167-F – The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands

FOIA 2006-0175-F – Executive Order 13111

FOIA 2006-0191-F – The 9/11 Commission Report “Responses to Al Qaeda’s Initial Assaults”

FOIA 2006-0198-F – Hillary Rodham Clinton on Children’s Issues and Women’s Rights [Seg. 4]

FOIA 2006-0203-F – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

FOIA 2006-0208-F – United States Information Agency

FOIA 2006-0214-F – Jamie Metzl, National Security Council

FOIA 2006-0238-F – Nancy Soderberg and Rwanda

FOIA 2006-0460-F – Robert (Bob) Boorstin

FOIA 2006-0467-F – Jeff Shesol, Speechwriter [Part 2]

FOIA 2006-0885-F – Health Care Task Force

FOIA 2006-1301-F – Hillary Rodham Clinton on Microcredit and Microdevelopment

FOIA 2006-1734-F – David Shipley, Speechwriter

FOIA 2008-0702-F – Paul Orzulak, National Security Council Speechwriter

FOIA 2008-0703-F – Thomas Rosshirt, National Security Council Speechwriter


Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. DAN Peterson

    The 1/2 wit Republicans will go the mile to find fault in these papers. So will Flush Rush. I like the comment above where it says the R. will self-destruct. I hope for some common sense soon. There are problems to be solved but they have to make sure Obama DOES NOT GET THE CREDIT FOR ANY SOLUTIONS.

    February 28, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. 2_indy1600

    Nothing new here, it's the time in Arkansas that's revealing...about both of the Clinton's: corrupt, vengeful, narcissist, disrespectful of the press and women. What's not to like? We'll just go from a nanny-state to a B-state.

    February 28, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. The Doctor

    The heck with the Clintons. I hope Ted Cruz gets elected so we can get all this crap out of our system. Yes, it will be painful and many will get hurt, but at least everyone will see what it's like and we can be done with it. Move on people, move on!

    February 28, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. JJ

    She's a fake; always has been...

    February 28, 2014 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Bill from GA

    Lynda/Minnesota – " I'll give him credit. He learned his lesson. And has lived with his consequences both publically and privately. "

    That he learned his lesson (as far as we know) after years of 'alleged' affairs, going back to 1980 at least, and after publicly embarrassing his wife, his daughter, and the entire country, is not saying much for his character.

    I give him NO credit at all for that.

    February 28, 2014 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. Rosa

    I don't really see anything interesting here.

    February 28, 2014 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    @hadenuf
    Lies to support immorality. The immoral Left supports anything the immoral Left will do. Go on... keep on killin' babies, screwing your neighbor, dis'n the faithful and blindly leading this God created country straight to Hell in a handbag. It's your onus...
    -----------–
    Thanks for sharing your faith with us but keep it out of my government! Yours is no better than mine in a Free Country.
    “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
    ~Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

    February 28, 2014 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  8. kamarasune

    During elections CNN will only be reliable to watch for Pro Clinton propaganda...

    February 28, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "disrespectful of the press"

    Everyone should be.

    February 28, 2014 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Bill from GA: "I give him NO credit at all for that."

    Apparently you feel very strongly on the subject. I'll not comment further on my thoughts.

    February 28, 2014 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  11. Alex

    Just a wild guess, but might "GS" be referring to George Stephanopoulos?

    February 28, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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