More Clinton documents released
April 18th, 2014
01:14 PM ET
8 years ago

More Clinton documents released

(CNN) - The William J. Clinton Presidential Library released a fourth batch of confidential memos, notes and other papers from the Clinton White House on Friday.

Collectively, the documents open a window into the Clinton years and cover a variety of topics, including the office of former first lady Hillary Clinton, who's now considered the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run.

Read the documents

Past coverage: What we found in the third batch | second batch | first batch

Friday's release of 7,274 documents spans a range of other issues from the 1990s, including Rwanda, the Oklahoma City bombing, the former Yugoslavia, affirmative action and immigrant detention.

Here are some highlights:

Then-Sen. Joe Biden was a 'no' vote on Hillary Clinton's 1993 health care reform, according to notes Clinton took during deliberations about how to pass the proposal through the Senate.

Biden's name appeared in a long list of senators and where each stood on the health care plan. While some senators names were starred, Clinton wrote and circled "NO" next to Biden's name, along with some other unintelligible notes.

Also on the list of senators is John Kerry, Clinton's successor at the State Department. Kerry's name was starred on the list, but Clinton wrote "probably not" next to the Massachusetts senator, implying that he probably wouldn't support the bill.

Other senators on the list include Daniel Patrick Moynihan, John Glenn, Kent Conrad and Tom Harkin.

After Hillary Clinton spent much of 1993 and 1994 on the health care plan, politics and public opinion killed the plan and none of the senators ever had a chance to vote on the proposal.

Fast forward over over two decades and now Biden is a strong and vocal supporter of President Barack Obama's healthcare plan. BFD anyone?

hillary no

Lewinsky email omitted: An e-mail from Monica Lewinsky was withheld from Friday's documents released by the Clinton Library.

The email was noted on a Withdrawal/Reaction Sheet on page 71 of section 2006-0325-F.

It was from October 22, 1997, after she had been transferred to the Pentagon from the White House. The email on her Pentagon account was sent to Ashley L. Raines.

The withdrawal notice said it was four pages and labeled Medical Report. It was withheld under a P6/b(6) restriction permitted under the Presidential Records Act and Freedom of Information Act because the "release would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

We may never know what it is included in the email to Raines, who worked at the White House, in the Old Executive Office Building.

Raines was interviewed by the Office of Independent Counsel on January 26, 1998.

She said she and Lewinsky had become close friends, and Lewinsky confided in her the summer of 1996 that she had a sexual relationship with the President.

White House grapples with message after Mogadishu: In the wake of the ill-fated raid to capture Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid in 1994 National Security Adviser Anthony Lake sought to give President Clinton a message to take to relatives of the 18 military members killed in the battle that was chronicled in the book and film "Blackhawk Down."

"You can make the argument that this battle pressured Aideed (sic) to seek a political solution after all. Your sons may have saved U.S. lives through this battle," Lake wrote.

In an emotional Oval Office meeting with some of the family members, Clinton said that he was unaware of the plan and thought that diplomatic efforts led by former President Jimmy Carter had been making progress.

Asked by retired Army Lt. Col. Larry Joyce, whose son Casey was killed in the battle, why the raid was launched if progress was being made on the diplomatic front, Clinton replied that he was "surprised" when he heard of it.

Asked by Casey Joyce's widow Deanna if he had no knowledge of the decision to launch the raid, Clinton replied, "No, I did not" and explained that the lesson from Vietnam was that those kind of decisions shouldn't be made in Washington but instead by the commanders on the scene.

Concerns about a summit with Bush 41 and Colin Powell: In a confidential memo to President Clinton, one of his closest outside advisers warned that a 1997 summit on volunteerism would be overshadowed by former President George H.W. Bush.

"Your service ideal as I understand it envisions a PARTNERSHIP between government and the citizens who constitute government's democratic legitimacy, not an abandoning of government in favor of private sector philanthropy," wrote Benjamin Barber, an author and unofficial adviser to the president.

Barber worried that "if the price of their [Bush’s and General Colin Powell’s] involvement becomes too high, if they take over the Summit and what it stands for in the public eye, it will turn out to be a very bad deal."

Barber concluded: "If [the summit] is seen as a Summit on Volunteerism or a Summit on How Private Markets Can Solve all our Public Problems or a perfect platform for General Powell to spend four years in the limelight talking about your issues, you will have lost a vital battle over the role of the civil society/government partnership in the American future and, I fear, (forgive my bluntness) will have diminished rather than have enhanced your presidency."

The summit eventually took place in April 1997.  Both Bush and Powell attended.

Read the document

‘The Jetsons’ are not so educational: Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Al and Tipper Gore, were sent a memo in 1996 preparing them for meetings with children's television executives.

Discussion in the meetings was to be centered on the idea of encouraging channels to provide three hours of educational programming for children each week. The memo notes: "CBS and FOX currently have agreed voluntarily to show three hours per week of children's TV. ABC and NBC have not." And "some broadcasters merely relabeled their existing cartoons as educational or claimed that shows like ‘The Jetsons’ met the requirement."

The memo warns the Clintons and Gores not to push for a voluntary ban on indecent programming during early evening hours: "Previous attempts to require set family times were found to have constitutional problems.... If asked, we need to reaffirm that we don't think government should do this and that industry must take the lead."

Read the document

Governance in the District of Columbia: A 1996 memo from Clinton's Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin Raineshighlights ongoing problems relating to the functioning of city government in the District of Columbia.

"The District is again in financial extremis" the memo to Clinton states, adding that some advocates argue the District "cannot manage certain responsibilities that have been given to the District by the federal government. They also argue that state government-type activities are too burdensome for a city to carry on its own," including pension programs for city employees, the mental health system and social welfare programs.

Raines makes a number of recommendations, but also makes it clear that "the two century old conundrum of how the federal district should be governed will remain with us."

Read the document

Funeral politics: A White House deputy director of scheduling used blunt language in complaining that President Clinton and Vice President Gore weren’t attending a funeral in Oklahoma in the 2000 presidential election year.

The memo was written four days after former Speaker of House Carl Albert of Oklahoma died.

Timothy Emrich, in a February 8, 2000 memo wrote to presidential scheduler Rachel Redington, said it is “stupid that neither BC nor AG is attending this funeral. ESPECIALLY AG, it's such an easy home run in the largest democratic part of the state, with the largest assemblage of Democrats in the state ever at one time. Why wouldn't the VP want the support of Oklahoma Democrats?”

Emrich continued: “Obviously, we're not Texas, Ohio, California, Florida, New York, or Michigan (where the VP is choosing to go instead) . . but why piss an entire state’s  Dem population off?  It’s f***ing stupid”.

Emrich wrote, “The 4 P's go to the funeral of a Republican Senator in Rhode Island but everyone skips this one. I'm pissed. And if I'm pissed, (former Democratic Gov.) David Walters must be fuming .. and he runs the Democratic money in the state.”

Later in the memo, Emrich said the President was being invited to the fifth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and the opening of the National Bombing Memorial on April 19.  He wrote, “I'm sure the white boys and co. will say, ‘they hate us in Oklahoma. No way. Next issue’?”

President Clinton attended the Oklahoma City bombing event.

Read the document

You're no Jack Kennedy: Ahead of the 30th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1993, speechwriter Carter Wilkie had concerns over how Clinton's role in commemorations might play in the media.

"The public mind is already stamped with images of Clinton at Kennedy's gravesite, and with Kennedy's family on a yacht off Martha's Vineyard. Anything more will tempt an irreverent press corps to charge overkill, hero worship, or worse," Wilkie wrote in a September 1993 memo.

"The LIFE magazine piece speaks for itself with a maturity that should resolve this problem."

Wilkie followed up with a memo to White House communications adviser David Dreyer over concerns about Clinton appearing too self-centered in the LIFE piece.

"The President does not need to idolize JFK, nor does he need to sound haunted by JFK's ghost around the White House just to keep readers interested,"​ Wilkie wrote.

And he also had concerns about the inevitable comparisons between JFK and Clinton.

"We should not encourage a revisionists debate by having some academic like Arthur Schlesinger Jr. speak about JFK at a White House event," Wilkie wrote. "And the last thing we need is a pompous headline, ‘You're No Jack Kennedy!’"

‘I heard nothing about this!': Handwritten notes from President Clinton to Vice President Al Gore conveyed annoyance about struggling diplomatic efforts in the Balkans crisis.

Clinton appeared particularly agitated when he drew an arrow pointing to a paragraph in a May 31, 1994, Washington Post story by Jim Hoagland about British and French negotiators in Bosnia being undercut by what was reported as American diplomats promising them one thing and something else to the Bosnian Croats.

"Is this true? I heard nothing about this!" Clinton wrote in a heavy hand and underlined twice.

The paragraph in Hoagland's piece read: “An important example: The British and the French felt significant progress had been made when the United States agreed to a Geneva conference on Bosnia based on a settlement giving the Serbs 49 percent of Bosnian territory. Barely 24 hours before the conference began, the Europeans discovered that the United States had also given its blessing to a Bosnian-Croat map that awarded the Serbs only 42 percent of the land.”

In a note addressed "To VP," Clinton wanted to know what Gore thought about an argument in a Post article by Stephen S. Rosenfeld about the "muddle" of his international policy for more peacekeepers in Bosnia. Clinton pointed out that the Department of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed the peacekeeping troops getting more involved.

“This will only work in the US if US soldiers volunteer,” Clinton wrote, pointing to a passage in the story about how peacekeepers should be able to be more active.

“DOD JCS against so far as (illegible) but only way it will work.”

Racial profiling at the White House?: Former Rep. Louis Stokes, D-Ohio, was stopped by the Secret Service at the Southwest Gate at the White House and asked for identification, although his white driver was not, according to a 1993 memo.

“Furthermore, before Rep. Stokes was allowed in the gate, a K-9 detail searched his car,” the memo continued. “Rep. Stokes is understandably furious and believes the search to be racially motivated.”

A week later, Stokes was scheduled to get a photo-op with the President.

The memo, which was written for the President in advance of the photo-op, said that White House staff took steps to ensure that in the future “members of Congress driving into the White House will be admitted expeditiously and will be treated with respect.”

Letter from mosque: The Chairman of the Board at Virginia’s Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque sent a letter to Clinton in 2000 requesting a meeting and to join in prayer services. Clinton responded by handwriting a note suggesting he wanted to respond and that it would be good to have more support from the Muslim community.

Note: This is the same Falls Church mosque where Anwar Al-Awlaki was imam. The letter to Clinton from the mosque was sent before Al-Awlaki assumed the imam role, however.


Health care target list: Among the 42 names on a 1994 list of key Democratic member of Congress to target on health care, one name sticks out: Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinski, a former congresswoman from Pennsylvania and now Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law.

Margolies-Mezvinski has a storied history with the Clintons. She was the deciding vote on the President's 1993 budget, a vote that eventually caused her to lose re-election in 1994. After telling reporters she wouldn't vote for Clinton's budget – which included tax increases on the wealthy – the President called and lobbied her personally.

Mezvinski then changed her mind and voted for the controversial proposal. While Democrats in the House were elated, some Republicans chanted "Goodbye Marjorie" as she walked around the floor.

Marc Mezvinsky, the former congresswoman’s son, married Chelsea Clinton in 2010. The two are now expecting their first child.

Target list

Read the document

No means no: Democratic humorist Mark Katz wrote some thoughts for Paul Begala to possibly use at a roast of radio host Don Imus in Washington, D.C. in October 1999.

One of the suggested areas of possible material for Paul was a letter Katz and Begala put together as a joke from President Clinton in rejecting an Imus interview request.

Dear Mr. Imus:

Welcome back to Washington. I vaguely recall your last visit to our nation's capital and have alerted FEMA of your return.

Paul Begala of my staff has informed me of your kind invitation to appear on your show as you broadcast here this week. The White House has received many similarly appealing invitations in recent weeks but all of those have been delivered by a federal Marshall. But a serious request deserves a serious response: No. Just so there is no confusion, allow me to parse "no" for you.

Hell no.

Netta chance.



That's a big 10-No, good buddy.

Take a regular "no" and super-size it.

Right after I go on Rush Limbaugh.

When you stop calling Mike McCurry "weasel boy"

When your television ratings hit triple digits.

Now leave me alone.

Sincerely yours,


Bob Filner cameo: A February 1996 e-mail among White House staffers in advance of a presidential trip to San Diego shows how the White House was trying to help its allies - in this case California Rep. Bob Filner.  Filner went on to serve a short, tumultuous term as San Diego mayor in 2013 before being forced to step down due to sexual harassment charges.

“Filner wants to be like glue during the entire trip to San Diego,” the e-mail said. “That should be fine with us. He is very concerned that City Councilman Juan Vargas, who is challenging him in the primary, not be at the event. I believe we should not hold this in Vargas' council district–that's our best· excuse 'for not including’ him.”

Beware of the Internet: The documents include a blunt memo from the White House Counsel's Office  about the "right-wing conspiracy," laying out how the author thinks smutty stories about Clinton came to be covered by the mainstream press. Unfortunately there's no information about who wrote this memo or to whom it was addressed, and it appears to have been produced around 1995.

One avenue of concern was this thing called the Internet.

“THE INTERNET: The internet has become one of the major and most dynamic modes of communication. The internet can link people, groups and organizations together instantly. Moreover, it allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all. The right wing has seized upon the internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”

Read the document

Fury over health care fallout: Ira Magaziner, the Clinton White House's top aide on healthcare, suggested in a 1995 retrospective on the failed health care law that White House officials had been disloyal to the president in their conversations with the press.

The retrospective, which was addressed to Hillary Clinton, is comprised of interviews and thoughts about why the law failed and what the White House learned from the failure.

"I see the inside when I think of how disloyal some Administration officials have been to you and the President and how hurtful they have been to me in their private discussions with the press," wrote a candid Magaziner to Clinton.

In the memo, Magaziner, who now heads up the Clinton Foundation's health care push, writes that "delay was fatal" for the health care law and that "the power and sophistication of opposing interest groups reached new heights with health reform and this played a major role in our defeat."

For much of 1993 and 1994, the Clinton White House – and especially the first lady – was consumed by passing health care reform. The effort eventually failed and because of vocal disapproval from Capitol Hill, the law never got a vote in either the House or the Senate.

Magaziner acknowledged in the memo that the first lady's health care task force "overreached by proposing too big a package against the advice of some senior Administration officials."

"It was too much for a President with a 43 percent mandate and slight congressional majorities to pass major deficit reduction and health care in his first two years," Magaziner writes.

He goes on to note that the healthcare task force "did not successfully build an interest group coalition because we did not negotiate well."​

Read the document

Gore cancels processional plans: The White House canceled a plan for Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore to take part in a processional walk on the first anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing after some federal workers who survived the bombing complained.

The Gores traveled to Oklahoma City for the memorial service on April 19, 1996, while the President was in Russia for a nuclear summit.

In a memo three days before the trip, scheduler Jackie Dycke wrote, “There was a small but growing sentiment amongst several (@25) people who were upset that the Gores would be participating in the processional walk… the people concerned about the Gores attendance were federal employees who were in the Murrah Building at the time of the bombing.”

The procession of families went from a private service at the bombing site to a public memorial service.

Dycke wrote that an Oklahoma City councilman who was working with them on the trip said, “While he vetted and floated the idea with many of the families, maybe it wasn’t as large a group as it should have been while making this decision. The recommendation from OK was that we not do the walk.”

“Needless to say, we have made the decision to cut the walk from our schedule," Dycke wrote. "I think we would all agree the last thing we want to do is appear opportunistic or intrusive in a grieving process that is so painful to so many people. I also think if we do this, and ended up with several angry or upset people, it could reflect extremely poorly on the Gores.”

Vietnam war questions: In a 2000 memo to President Clinton from his National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Stephanie Streett, he is advised to be prepared for questions about his personal decisions about his military service in advance of his 2000 trip to Vietnam:

“Your record – did you make the right decision about military service during the Vietnam War? Do you have any regrets? How do you feel about finally going to Vietnam?”

–  People of good faith have different views on the war and decisions that were made. The war was a painful period in our history and Vietnam's.

– But this trip is not about me personally. It is about our interests as a country and the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.

2008-0703-F-Speechwriter Thomas Rosshirt – page 9

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. devil's advocate

    Christie must have Jan Brady syndrome, Hillary Hillary Hillary! The Clinton's have dominated the ticker the last two days, get used to it .

    April 18, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. jesus

    Looking forward to Bush years.

    April 18, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |

    I wonder if they wil tell the whole story on how Bill C let Bin Laden live to fight another day ? Or maybe Hillary hearing voices in her head talking to her ? We shall see .
    . These are important issues .

    April 18, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  4. Thomas

    The real story of Camelot ?

    April 18, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    Man this is boring.

    April 18, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Totally boring.

    April 18, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood
    I wonder if they wil tell the whole story on how Bill C let Bin Laden live to fight another day ? Or maybe Hillary hearing voices in her head talking to her ? We shall see .
    . These are important issues .
    25 points for new and strange conspiracy theory. How many followers of this one so far?

    April 18, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |