Brian Birdnow

This past Monday night (June 9th) ABC News broadcast a Diane Sawyer interview with Hillary Clinton, ostensibly to promote the former Secretary of State’s new memoir, but also to serve as the advance notice of her coming 2016 Presidential campaign. This friendly chat ranged widely over issues, but the most telling moment consisted of Hillary’s moving account of she and her husband’s financial woes after they had left the White House in early 2001. By Hillary’s account, the First Couple “struggled” to make ends meet after losing their taxpayer subsidized housing and meal allowance. She repeated the oft-told tale that the Clintons had gone to Washington with no money and that they left with nothing, but were also deeply in debt. We will examine these claims momentarily. The larger issue that makes the Sawyer-Clinton interview noteworthy is the fact that it perfectly illustrates Hillary Clinton’s troubles with the truth, and the entire Clinton sense of entitlement.

First of all, let us examine Hillary’s poor-mouthing and claims of indigence upon arriving in Washington in 1993. She claims that the Clintons came to Washington broke, but TH readers with long memories will recall the stories seeping out in the 90s about Hillary investing a few hundred dollars in cattle futures and turning it into a $100,000 payout. Granted, the Clintons lost some of that profit in the complex and tangled mess known as the Whitewater Development affair, but Hillary Clinton was a very highly paid attorney at the prestigious Rose Law Firm at this time, earning a handsome salary, and moonlighting with a $2,000 per month retainer as the corporate attorney for Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan, an admitted criminal enterprise. In addition to Hillary’s earnings, her governor-husband Bill earned total compensation equivalent to $ 86,000 yearly, although, thanks to creative accounting, only $35,000 was taxable income. The Clinton’s received free housing, meals and child care due to his office. Finally, when the couple moved to Washington, Hillary resigned her position at the Rose Law Firm and cashed in her partnership. She received $220,000 in this transaction. If the Clintons arrived in Washington without a cent the reader can reasonably ask: “What happened to the money?”


Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.