Pollsters keep telling us: Voters just don't trust Hillary Clinton. The Democratic presidential nominee has faced numerous scandals well before and during her second run at the Oval Office that have fueled voters’ opinions that she may not be trustworthy or a viable candidate for the United States’ highest political office.
Part of the problem is that Clinton has been in the political spotlight for decades. The 68-year-old’s political career has already touched the White House, the floor of the U.S. Senate, and all over the globe during her tenure as secretary of state, and that kind of exposure has left her open for scandal or controversy over the highest levels of national security and in other areas.
Here’s a list of five of the scandals that could put Clinton’s bid for the White House in jeopardy as she continues to battle Republican Donald Trump ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
This scandal has led many of Clinton’s critics to question her fitness for office and her prowess as head of the State Department. Four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, were killed and the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, was evacuated on Sept. 11, 2012, after a terrorist attack on the diplomatic compound and an annex.
At the time, it was unclear if the attack was planned by terrorists or a reaction from an anti-Muslim video that went viral and caused protests to turn extremely violent. How Clinton and President Barack Obama’s administration initially explained the reason for the attack is the central point to the scandal. The White House first blamed the viral video but then said it was a coordinated attack, and Clinton later used the same verbiage. According to the Washington Post, a former CIA official told a House intelligence committee that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists were part of the attack but that it wasn’t planned. Clinton faced criticism for not evacuating the embassy sooner.
State Department Emails
Clinton served as secretary of state for the Obama administration from January 2009 to February 2013 and during that time Clinton used a private email account and server rather than a government-issued account. During the Benghazi investigation, the State Department requested access to her emails. It was later made public that Clinton deleted more than 30,000 emails from her private server.
Amid calls for further investigation and some suggesting Clinton broke the law, the Department of Justice announced in July its decision not to seek charges against Clinton or her staffers. That came after FBI Director James B. Comey’s announcement that while “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue charges, investigators discovered “evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” according to the Washington Post.
Critics say the use of her private server left her susceptible to hacking and the potential leak of sensitive classified information. Clinton has denied wrongdoing but has apologized for deleting the emails.
The Clinton Foundation
Bill Clinton started the foundation in 1997 to both fund his presidential library and global charity efforts, but reports have shown that much of the $2 billion raised over the last 20 years came from U.S. and foreign corporations, foreign governments and many other political donors (including Trump) who received special access to Clinton while she was secretary of state, International Business Times reported in August.
One of the more concerning issues in this scandal is the extra access Clinton Foundation donors received from the State Department, including Saudi Arabia, which received “a boost in arms export authorizations from the Clinton-led State Department.” Oil, banking, and lobbying groups also saw deals go their way, documents show.
Before securing the Democratic nomination, the Associated Press reported Hillary Clinton could have many conflicts of interests while in the White House because of how much money she made giving speeches to 82 corporations, trade associations and others between 2013 and 2015. The AP found Clinton made $21.6 million on her speech tour. Clinton's former Democratic rival Bernie Sanders often questioned her alignment with Wall Street banks during the primary season because of the speeches and how much she was paid.
"If somebody gets paid $225,000 for a speech, it must be an unbelievably extraordinary speech," Sanders said at a speech in New York in April. "I kind of think if that $225,000 speech was so extraordinary, she should release the transcripts and share it with all of us."
Clinton said she would release transcripts of the speeches when her election opponents would agree to do the same. But famed leaker site WikiLeaks released emails last week that were believed to be hacked from Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, and that allegedly showed phrases in the speeches. The excerpts included a speech during a Goldman Sachs-Black Rock event in 2014 during which she admitted to being out of touch with middle-class America, Politico reported last week.
Bill Clinton’s Affairs
Hillary Clinton’s reactions to Bill Clinton’s affairs have been well documented and some have painted her in the light of a political juggernaut rather than a wife concerned for her marriage. As many as five women altogether have accused Bill Clinton of either having an affair with them or even rape: Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Gennifer Flowers, Dolly Kyle and Kathleen Willey.
Bill Clinton has only admitted to affairs with former White House intern Lewinsky and model/actress Flowers, but it’s Hillary Clinton’s attempts to spin each accusation that have come under fire, especially from Trump, who invited four of the accusers to the most recent presidential debate on Sunday.
Former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos wrote in his memoir “All Too Human: A Political Education,” that Clinton had to “savage her enemies” while the Lewinsky scandal splashed across headlines. He also wrote that when a woman named Conni Hamzy in 1991 claimed to have had an affair with Bill Clinton, Hillary quoted Hillary saying: “We have to destroy her story.”
Clinton’s also been accused of calling stories of Bill’s infidelities “bimbo eruptions.” Once during an ABC News interview, she called Flowers a “cabaret singer who doesn’t even have much a resume to fall back on.”