Hillary Clinton suggested in a decades-old interview that she knew her client was guilty when she defended him for allegedly raping a 12-year-old girl, according to audio released late Sunday night by the Washington Free Beacon.
“It was a fascinating case, it was a very interesting case,” Clinton, who took the case in 1975 when she was just 28 years old, said in an interview conducted years later in the mid-1980s. “This guy was accused of raping a 12-year-old. Course he claimed that he didn’t, and all this stuff. ...
“I had him take a polygraph, which he passed – which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs,” she added.
And in a move that would later become Team Clinton's go-to response for dealing with accusations of sexual misconduct, Hillary launched an attack on the 12-year-old's credibility, claiming in court documents that the girl was "emotionally unstable."
Clinton accused the girl of having a "tendency to seek out older men and engage in fantasizing," the documents obtained by the Beacon show.
“I have also been told by an expert in child psychology that children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences and that adolescents in disorganized families, such as the complainant’s, are even more prone to exaggerate behavior,” Clinton said.
She added that the girl had "in the past made false accusations about persons, claiming they had attacked her body" and that the girl "exhibits an unusual stubbornness and temper when she does not get her way."
It turned out that the attacks on the girl weren't even necessary. Clinton used evidence found at the scene of the alleged rape to defend her client.
And she got her way: Her client, who was originally looking at a 30-year stretch in prison, was sentenced to just one year, with two months reduced for time served, the Beacon reported.
This is where we get to some of the bigger issues of this story.
First, it would be absolutely wrong to say that Clinton should not have defended the man. Indeed, regardless of the accusation, no matter how terrible the charge, everyone in America has the right to a fair trial with a good lawyer.
Clinton was picked to defend a man accused of a terrible crime and she offered him a winning defense. Bravo.
However, we can dispute the way she defended him. Yes, everyone has the right to a fair trial, but should that involve savaging the character of a 12-year-old girl? Should that involve attacking the character of a child who, according to Clinton’s own words, was most likely raped in a field by a 41-year-old factory worker?
This is the sort of stuff that courtroom dramas are made of -- and Clinton is the bad guy. She is no Atticus Finch in this story. Rather, she sounds like a knockoff character from Al Pacino's "… And Justice for All." "I'm out of order? You're out of order!" the lawyer shouted at the 12-year-old girl.
Further, a legal expert provides additional details on Clinton's disturbing conduct as a lawyer.
“We’re hired guns,” Ronald D. Rotunda, a professor of legal ethics at Chapman University, told the Beacon. “We don’t have to believe the client is innocent … our job is to represent the client in the best way we can within the bounds of the law.”
He added that Clinton’s mention of the polygraph test and her suggesting that her client could have been guilty may have violated several rules.
“You can’t do that,” he said. “Unless the client says: ‘You’re free to tell people that you really think I’m a scumbag, and the only reason I got a lighter sentence is because you’re a really clever lawyer'."
None of this should come as a surprise. Indeed, we have long known that Clinton is a political animal, consumed by an insatiable lust for influence and power (even taking the case was about paying a political favor to a prosecutor). She will do or say whatever is necessary to win, even if it involves attacking a child or surrounding herself with people who are willing to create bizarre "birther" conspiracy theories for her benefit.
Sure, it’s not "big" or "newsy" that a shrewd lawyer did terrible things to defend a man accused of heinous crimes. But it’s the person involved in this story that makes it so interesting.
This leads us to our next question: How will the media respond to the new audio from the Washington Free Beacon? How will the crowd that has breathlessly followed the Clinton book tour react to details of her attempt to destroy the character of an alleged 12-year-old rape victim?
I predict that the media uses one of the following scenarios to address the story:
First, the media will cover the story. Considering the fact that Clinton appears to be feeling out a potential 2016 bid, and considering the fact that she is already enjoying wall-to-wall coverage, the media may actually find some interest in the rape story and -- gasp! -- ask her about it in forthcoming interviews. The coverage may or may not be robust, but it's better than nothing.
Second, the media will offer a minimum amount of coverage to the story only so it can defend Clinton for "just doing her job." It will be particularly delightful if the media takes this route considering all the time and attention it has dedicated to the so-called “war on women.”
Several news organizations, including the Huffington Post, Politico and BuzzFeed, in 2012 dedicated an absurd amount of resources to cover Rush Limbaugh's comments on Sandra Fluke and Todd Akin's monstrously idiotic "legitimate rape" remarks.
It will be interesting to see if these same groups, those who go on about "reproductive justice," George Will's "hate speech" and the Roman Catholic Church's supposedly nefarious influence over "public policy," will find time to discuss Hillary's attempt to assassinate the character of an alleged 12-year-old rape victim.
Or do these groups only talk about these issues when it concerns Republicans?
Lastly, the media ignores the story entirely and offers the "old news" defense. This case was in 1975! She defended the guy, he served a little time and eventually died in 1992. Her defense strategy of attacking the girl? What difference, at this point, does it make?*
Well, here’s the thing: You could make the argument that the story is old news and that it's silly to dredge it up, but that argument became obsolete several years ago.
This is 2014. If there's one thing that we learned from the 2012 presidential election it's that no story is too old, no transgression too slight to merit 24-hour news coverage.
The same people who brought you "scandals" involving former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney putting his dog on his car or Texas Gov. Rick Perry being associated with a ranch that has a rock with a racial slur painted on it (he didn't even own the property), are not allowed to complain about "old news" anymore.
If Romney giving a kid a haircut in high school is cause for endless analyzing and tsk-tsking from cable news hosts and political pundits, then surely Hillary Clinton savaging a 12-year-old’s character in order to defend a man accused of child rape nearly 40 years ago is worth at least a little coverage.
Or am I expecting too much?