February 28th, 2014
02:36 PM ET
7 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. salty dog

    How long would it be before another Republican got elected if George had notes like this? Notes like these from the bush reign would land many in prison, rightfully so

    February 28, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. salty dog

    Yup, the Democrats had to go through these, and orchestrate another cover up, lmao. Its simply not her fault she will walk into the whitehouse, ever ask why you have nobody who even has a decent chance . People just aren't as dumb as you need them to be, of course there are some who believe them, I just cant figure out why . I think the gop has gone about as far as hate and ignorance can take you.

    February 28, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. somebody

    ...Republican alternative to require people to get health insurance – the individual mandate at the heart of Obamacare 17 years later....

    I wonder if this will be part of the truckload of opposition research Reince Priebus talks about. Oh wait, it just exposes the hypocrisy of the current GOP. We were all for it until a Dem wanted to actually do it. Watching the GOP tap dancing in the 2016 debates is going to be fun.

    February 28, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. Abbey

    Yes Democrats you own her and her sordid past. Good luck convincing the middle class she is in it for them.

    February 28, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Abbey

    Please not another Hillary apology! Anymore admissions about her failed marriage is laughable and yet another reason most Americans will reject her and the Democrats.

    February 28, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. John

    A lot of Bill and Hillary's friends and confidants did land in prison or dead. A lot of the ones that went to prison were given a presidential pardon by Bill. They are so corrupt, I am surprised there are that many fools that would vote for Hillary. It tells you the intelligent level of Americans. Not surprised to hear that 1 in 4 Americans think the Sun revolves around the Earth. Hopefully the people with some common sense and smarts will come out and vote, that's been lacking for quite some time.

    February 28, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    "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, ... ..."
    ----------------------------------
    I think they are doing some good old Barney Fife bud nipping on the ACA. The Republicans and the entire conserative movement were united behind the idea of an individual mandate right up until the moment Pres. Barack Obama embraced the idea and tried to enact it into law.

    February 28, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. Tom from Canonsburg

    Yep, Salty Dog you can see what drinking the koolaid has done for you. The GOP spent more than 80 million of our tax dollars investigating Hillary & Bill. What they got for that was Bill lied about a BJ. Nothing else, but convincing the Right that they were evil. I see they got you, where the Ken Starr investigation failed.

    February 28, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. salty dog

    The gop will spend big trying desperately to find something, anything, pathetic, the lot of em

    February 28, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. BOB

    Say hi to President Hilary GOP.

    February 28, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. Lizzie

    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.
    So CNN picks and chooses, let's see tht alternative republican proposal, probably has nothing in it that the IRS will inforce and you WILL pay a penalty and the IRS will tell you HOW much.

    February 28, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. Harold Read

    Wonder if they are going to publish details on Hillary's heroic fight landing in Bosnia when the plane was under heavy fire from enemy forces... Oh wait... She lied about that.

    How about recent details in how she lead the hunt for the highly organized and heavily armed militia that executed a well planned assault that killed a US Ambassador... Oh wait... None of the attackers have been caught, Hillary has a series of slips and falls so she would not have to pubilcally address the incident, and she stood by the statement "it was a spontaneous group of protestors upset about the YouTube movie". But wait... She did capture the YouTube Movie Director and threw him in jail.

    February 28, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. Jim Jimson

    Who cares? There's nothing new here whatsoever. This stuff is at least 20 years old.

    February 28, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. Reggie53

    No mention of Monica? I know she will come back to haunt Hillary. Maybe then she will get a conscience because she seems to have lost it.

    February 28, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. jerome

    I was hoping that the William J. Clinton Presidential Library was going to release some real dirt about old Hillary,

    February 28, 2014 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Tom from Canonsburg

    Yep, Salty Dog you can see what drinking the koolaid has done for you. The GOP spent more than 80 million of our tax dollars investigating Hillary & Bill. What they got for that was Bill lied about a BJ. Nothing else, but convincing the Right that they were evil. I see they got you, where the Ken Starr investigation failed.
    ----------------------------–
    If "Bill lied about a BJ", then I praise Bill Clinton for doing so. He did what any decent husband in his position would have done. He lied, and he lied to the Congress about it. He tried valiantly to save his wife from further public humiliation and shame.....and it seems that she loves him all the more for it.

    February 28, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. Sip That Kool Aid, It's All You're Good For.

    Republicans suck.

    February 28, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. Jme

    No one wants an old ugly white women as president.

    February 28, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    "Bored?: Somebody started doodling during a May 19 strategy session on an MIT commencement address"

    Anti-Hillary taking points produce similar reactions.

    February 28, 2014 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. mark

    Well at least they will be doing something .They might even get the stick out from the behind .And stand upright

    February 28, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. Kathy, AZ

    salty dog

    "The gop will spend big trying desperately to find something, anything, pathetic, the lot of em"

    I couldn't agree more, Salty Dog.

    February 28, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  22. Lizzie

    somebody, and democrats at that time where opposed to the healthcare law
    "
    Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan qualified his agreement that "there is no health care crisis" by stating "there is an insurance crisis" but also indicated "anyone who thinks [the Clinton health care plan] can work in the real world as presently written isn't living in it."[16] Meanwhile instead of uniting behind the President's original proposal,other Democrats offered a number of competing plans of their own. Some criticized the plan from the left, preferring a single payer system.
    In August 1994, Democratic Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell introduced a compromise proposal that would have delayed requirements of employers until 2002, and exempted small businesses. However, "even with Mitchell’s bill, there were not enough Democratic Senators behind a single proposal to pass a bill, let alone stop a filibuster."[17]
    A few weeks later, Mitchell announced that his compromise plan was dead, and that health care reform would have to wait at least until the next Congress."

    February 28, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. CALIFORNIA

    It's a shame Hillary is too sick to run.

    February 28, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    "If "Bill lied about a BJ", then I praise Bill Clinton for doing so. He did what any decent husband in his position would have done. He lied, and he lied to the Congress about it. He tried valiantly to save his wife from further public humiliation and shame.....and it seems that she loves him all the more for it."
    ------
    So it's OK to lie to congress to save your wife from "further humiliation"? Interesting take.

    February 28, 2014 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Jan Nappylotto

    Clinton for President! Pass out the cigars!!!

    February 28, 2014 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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