Former President Bill Clinton thinks it’s a “good thing” that sexual consent norms have changed since he was in office.
Clinton made the disturbing remark in response to a question from PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff during an interview on Friday while promoting his new book.
“I assume you think that what happened with you was more serious than what happened with Senator — former Senator Al Franken,” Woodruff asked, referring to the Minnesota Democratic who left office earlier this year amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. “So, norms have changed. Do you think that’s a good thing?”
“Well, in general, I think it’s a good thing, yes,” Clinton responded. “I think it’s a good thing that we should all have higher standards. I think the norms have really changed in terms of, what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them miserable at work.”
And this is quite the turn of phrase pic.twitter.com/JZjl4t9WKs
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) June 11, 2018
“You don’t have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other — just walking around. That, I think, is good,” Clinton continued before going on to defend Franken.
“I think that — I will be honest — the Franken case, for me, was a difficult case, a hard case. There may be things I don’t know. But I — maybe I’m just an old-fashioned person, but it seemed to me that there were 29 women on “Saturday Night Live” that put out a statement for him, and that the first and most fantastic story was called, I believe, into question,” he said.
“Too late to wade into it now. I mean, I think it’s a grievous thing to take away from the people a decision they have made, especially when there is an election coming up again. But it’s done now.”
Clinton’s response to his Oval Office affair with then-intern Monica Lewinsky and his views on sexual conduct norms raised plenty of eyebrows, adding to the criticism already leveled against the former president for not personally apologizing to Lewinsky when asked in another interview.
“Norms have changed about what you can do to someone against their will” is a hell of a sentiment https://t.co/wjOwGsxiTo
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 11, 2018
Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton of raping her in 1978 when he was running for governor of Arkansas, blasted the former president n a tweet on Monday.
Sooooo….Bill Clinton thinks he should get a pass because it was 1978 when HE RAPED ME….and HE knows it’s not acceptable in today’s society??? https://t.co/4VZlcobeIW
— Juanita Broaddrick (@atensnut) June 11, 2018
Conservative commentator Kayleigh McEnany tweeted her disgust as well.
This guy… Bill Clinton perhaps you should just stop talking. This is gross! https://t.co/AOmTUTT97E
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) June 11, 2018
Former MSNBC producer Matt Stoller also weighed in, responding to tweets from the Times’ national political correspondent, Alex Burns.
Old Bill Clinton asserting in his own way ‘I’m a terrible person but you elected me twice’ is the most honest Bill Clinton. https://t.co/pDWmXvUfh4
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) June 11, 2018
Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markay joined the wave of backlash.
Saying the quiet part loud https://t.co/fJrVe1j6UA
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) June 11, 2018
When ur a sociopathic predator, you do whatever pop culture and it’s “norms” let you get away with. First @BillClinton says “norms have changed” about assault then he claims to be “old fashioned” in defense of @alfranken. This guy has no moral compass and clearly answers to no 1. https://t.co/JudOpzOLe1
— M. Zuhdi Jasser (@DrZuhdiJasser) June 11, 2018
Clinton’s office responded by issuing a statement later, according to Fox News.
“He was not suggesting that there was ever a time that it was acceptable to do something against someone’s will,” Angel Urena, Clinton’s press secretary, said. “He’s saying that norms have changed in a variety of ways in how we interact with one another, and that’s all for the good.”
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