WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump is trying to revive old problems in Hillary Clinton's marriage and claims that she helped Bill Clinton discredit his accusers. As Trump's campaign staggers under the revelation of his own predatory behavior toward women, he's also going further: He's accused the former president of "rape," Hillary Clinton of being an "enabler" and threatened to shift those issues from his Twitter feed to the presidential debate stage.
Leading up to Sunday's town hall debate in St. Louis, Hillary Clinton's campaign brushed off Trump's tactics.
Accusations Against Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton has been dogged by rumors of adultery and, at times, allegations of mistreatment of women, for much of his political career.
The rumors and accusations began when Bill Clinton was Arkansas governor in the 1990s. They became national news when he ran for president in 1992 and actress Gennifer Flowers claimed she'd had a long-term, sexual relationship with Bill Clinton. The candidate and his wife denied the affair on CBS' "60 Minutes," Bill Clinton was dubbed the "comeback kid" and went on to win the presidency. Bill Clinton later acknowledged in a 1998 court deposition that he once had a sexual encounter with Flowers.
More claims of infidelity haunted Bill Clinton's two terms as president. In 1994, former Arkansas state worker Paula Jones filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him for allegedly exposing himself to her in a Little Rock hotel room. Bill Clinton's lawyers tried to have the suit dismissed, but in November 1998, he paid Jones $850,000 to settle the case without apologizing or acknowledging culpability.
That same year, Bill Clinton acknowledged that he had a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern. Bill Clinton initially denied it — including to his wife. But under pressure from investigators, Bill Clinton later admitted to the affair. He was impeached by the Republican-led House for perjury and obstruction. The Senate voted against removing him from office.
Two other women who have long accused Bill Clinton of mistreatment revived their charges this year.
Juanita Broaddrick, a former Arkansas nursing home administrator, first claimed 17 years ago that Bill Clinton raped her during a meeting in Little Rock in 1978. Broaddrick sued Bill Clinton in 1999, but the case was dismissed in 2001. A Twitter account that claimed to be that of Broaddrick revived the allegations on Saturday.
Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer, is using a web site to again accuse Bill Clinton of forcing himself on her in 1993. Both women also accuse Hillary Clinton of trying to discredit them.
Neither accusation has been adjudicated by a judge or jury. Bill Clinton has long denied the accusations. Hillary Clinton has declined to address them.
How Hillary Clinton Responded to the Allegations
In the 1992 race, Hillary Clinton worked with campaign aides to counter rumors against her husband. She stood by him when he was accused of infidelity and held hands with him when he denied an affair with Flowers on "60 Minutes." She has lashed out at a "vast right-wing conspiracy" for inflaming allegations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton.
His admission of the Lewinsky affair in 1998 and his out-of-court settlement with Jones confirmed what his wife had long denied. In her autobiography, "Living History," Hillary Clinton said she raged at him after he admitted the affair, but ultimately decided she did not want to leave him. She called it one of the most difficult decisions she has ever made.
What Trump Is Doing
The Clintons' conduct, Trump alleges, amounts to abuse. Trump's critics, including dozens of Republicans who are calling for him to quit the race, say he is describing his own acts of sexual assault on the recording first reported Friday by The Washington Post and NBC News.
Trump fired back ahead of the second debate against Hillary Clinton by retweeting Broaddrick's rape accusations, posted to the Twitter account that claimed to belong to her. He also tweeted a link to Breitbart News, which had posted an "exclusive" video in which Broaddrick tells her story about being raped by Bill Clinton. Breitbart News is a conservative publication whose former chief, Steve Bannon, is now chief executive officer of the Trump campaign.
Also Sunday, Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and a top Trump adviser, echoed other Trump aides in saying Bill Clinton's conduct alone is not relevant to 2016 race. What's relevant, Giuliani said, is Hillary Clinton's "role as the attacker" of women who claimed affairs with Bill Clinton.
"Neither side should throw stones because both sides have sinned," Giuliani said on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''So how about we put that behind us?"
Trump Used to Express Sympathy for Bill Clinton
In August 1998, nine days after Bill Clinton admitted his affair with Lewinsky to a grand jury, Trump expressed sympathy for the president's plight in a CNBC interview.
"I'm not even sure that he shouldn't have just gone in and taken the Fifth Amendment (constitutional protection against self-incrimination)," Trump said.
As late as 2008, Trump, who invited the Clintons to his 2005 wedding and has donated at least $100,000 to their global charity, said on CNN: "Look at the trouble Bill Clinton got into with something that was totally unimportant. And they tried to impeach him, which was nonsense."
Trump said recently that his earlier comments reflected his obligation as a businessman to "get along with everybody."