Hillary Clinton admits mishandling sexual harassment claims against staffer

Credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne

 

Hillary Clinton acknowledged Tuesday evening that she mishandled the 2008 sexual-harassment claims against a male campaign staffer.

The former first lady said in a lengthy Facebook post that she understood why she was being asked in this “#MeToo” moment why she overruled her advisers and kept Burns Strider on the job despite “his inappropriate workplace behavior.”

“The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in a post released just 15 minutes before President Trump’s State of the Union address.

Mrs. Clinton said she “didn’t think firing [Mr. Strider] was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job.”

She then argued that she had “made, directly and indirectly, thousands of personnel decisions — everything from hiring to promoting to disciplining to firing. Most of these decisions worked out well.”

Mrs. Clinton claimed that taking away someone’s livelihood is the most severe thing an employer can do, which disinclines her to firing people.

“When faced with a situation like this, if I think it’s possible to avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved, I am inclined in that direction. I do not put this forward as a virtue or a vice — just as a fact about how I view these matters,” she wrote.

One of the first scandals in which Mrs. Clinton was involved when she became first lady in 1993 involved the firing of Billy Dale, the head of the White House travel office. According to reports at the time, she wanted “our people” in that job.

In her post Tuesday evening, Mrs. Clinton also noted that it was a different time in 2008. But no longer.

“Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals,” she wrote, adding that there should be zero tolerance for sexual misconduct henceforth despite her earlier stated belief in second chances.

“Men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions,” she wrote. “In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let’s do our best to make the most of it.”

The timing of the post — when the Washington news cycle would be taken over by Mr. Trump’s speech — raised eyebrows.

“Better than a Friday news dump,” Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon wrote on Twitter, referring to the frequent practice during the Clinton administration of releasing embarrassing information on Friday evening to minimize its impact on the pre-internet news cycle.

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