The current controversy around Hillary Clinton is part of a well-established pattern.

Clinton is accused of supporting a policy of cooperation with Russia by helping a Russian company buy uranium. This was a policy that began under President George W. Bush and was continued by President Obama until Russia invaded Ukraine.

This “scandal” follows others, like her non-role in the murder of an American ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and her unsuspicious use of a secure personal email account when she was secretary of state. Articles about each accusation usually include a reference to previous controversies. The intent is to make people likelier to believe the accusation du jour.

There is a pattern here. It is a pattern of her being falsely accused. None of these prior accusations turned out to have any substance. Clinton has been exonerated on every one of those charges leveled at her.

During the 1990s, the Republican Party did everything possible to find something that she had done wrong and were unable to do so.

In 1993, as a member of the House Banking Committee, I participated in hearings about the accusation that the Clintons had done something wrong regarding the Whitewater land deal. Nothing turned up. But when Republicans took control of Congress in 1995, they announced that there had been a cover-up and reopened the investigation. In 1995, Chairman Jim Leach announced there would be two weeks of hearings into Whitewater, with a report at the end. After the first week, it became very clear that neither President Clinton nor Hillary Clinton had done anything that warranted a negative conclusion. Jim Leach is a man of great integrity, and while he did his partisan duty to convene the hearing, his intellectual honesty prevented him from satisfying the Republican wish for condemnation. He ended the hearings after one week, and the committee issued no report, on the political principle that the absence of bad news is no news.


Kenneth Starr took over from there. He was charged with investigating Whitewater, the suicide of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, the FBI files that found their way to the White House, the firing of people in the travel office and everything else of which the Clintons were accused. Not one of these allegations led to any finding that she had done anything improper, inappropriate or wrong.

Starr fairly quickly concluded that Foster had in fact committed suicide, refuting the vicious allegations that Hillary Clinton had somehow been involved.

He then continued to investigate all the other charges, spending tens of millions of dollars, with no results until the Monica Lewinsky affair was added to his investigative duties. By the fall of 1998, he formally reported to Congress that there were 11 counts on which President Clinton should be impeached. That seemed impressive at first until a quick read showed that he had simply found 11 ways to describe oral sex. (Leaving him 39 short of the creative Mr. Christian Grey.)

This report came before the 1998 congressional election, when the Republicans hoped to gain enough seats to convict the president and drive him from office. After the election, when Starr testified before the Judiciary Committee on which I was sitting, he presented his full report. I noted that while he did recommend impeachment on the Lewinsky count, he found nothing negative in any of the other accusations. No one doubts that Starr was determined to inflict maximum damage on the Clintons, both in pursuit of his law enforcement job and because of his own political views, so it is relevant that having spent several years and a large amount of money investigating Whitewater, Vince Foster’s suicide, the travel office, the FBI files and anything else he could think of, he was forced to conclude that neither Clinton was guilty of anything inappropriate in any of these matters.

I did get to ask him at the hearing why he had sent us the one negative fact before the election and only after the election reported that there was nothing that could be held against either Clinton on all of the other charges. He had no coherent answer.

The relevance of this is that after an investigation by a special prosecutor who was trying to play Inspector Javert to Hillary Clinton’s Jean Valjean, she was exonerated of every accusation against her.

The next time you read an article about some new case against her that refers to the string of previous attacks, please remember none of them were ever shown to have any substance whatsoever.

Barney Frank is a retired congressman and the author of landmark legislation. He divides his time between Maine and Massachusetts.

Twitter: BarneyFrank

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