In an hour-long sitdown TV interview, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump resurrected accusations of rape against former president Bill Clinton.
Trump’s remarks came in response to a question from Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity, who asked Trump about his feelings on a recent New York Times article that dug into the candidate’s troubled history with women, which Trump called a “con job” that made him “furious.”
“Are they going to interview Juanita Broaddrick?” Hannity asked Trump, in apparent defense of the candidate. “Are they going to interview Paula Jones? Are they going to interview Kathleen Willey? In one case, it’s about exposure. In another case, it’s about groping and fondling and touching against a woman’s will.”
“And rape,” Trump responded.
“And rape,” Hannity followed up.
“And big settlements, massive settlements… and lots of other things,” Trump continued. “And impeachment for lying, and losing your law license. You know, he lost his law license, OK? He couldn’t practice law. And you don’t read about this on Clinton.”
The extraordinary attack on Hillary Clinton’s husband has no precedent in modern American politics, although Trump has hinted for months that he would be willing to make his attacks against Clinton personal, up to and including her marriage to the former president.
Before a single vote had been cast in either primary, Trump slammed the former president in January as “one of the great women abusers of all time,” calling the former secretary of state a hypocrite for accusing him of sexism. In that same month, Trump published a video on Instagram that implicitly compared the former president to disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, paired with audio of a famous Hillary Clinton quotation: “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights, once and for all. Let’s keep fighting for dignity.”
Trump doubled down on those comments earlier this month, telling supporters in Washington state that “she’s married to a man who was the worst abuser of women in the history of politics. She’s married to a man who hurt many women.”
“Nobody, perhaps in the history of politics, was worst to women or abused women more than Bill Clinton,” Trump said at the time. “And she’s taking negative ads on me.”
Trump’s initial criticisms came at the same time as a tweet from Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator who alleged in 1999 that Clinton had raped her in an Arkansas hotel room during his first gubernatorial campaign in 1978, brought old allegations of sexual misconduct to the fore.
When Broaddrick was subpoenaed to testify in a sexual harassment suit by Paula Jones against the then-president in 1997, she submitted a sworn affidavit denying “unfounded rumors and stories circulated that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies.”
Clinton has denied Broaddrick’s claims since the late 1990s, when they first surfaced.
The charges on Wednesday night are likely the most aggressive attack on a candidate’s spouse in political history, although Trump made singling out the wives of fellow Republican candidates a near-regular feature of his primary campaign. In one sustained dust-up with fellow Republican candidate Ted Cruz, Trump negatively compared Heidi Cruz’s appearance to that of his own wife, a former model.
Watch footage from the interview, as posted online, below.