All The Things That Hillary Clinton Has Ever Been Blamed For Will Make Your Head Spin
Recently, as allegations of sexual harassment mounted against film producer Harvey Weinstein, public debate turned away from how society favors powerful men and focused instead on whether or not Hillary Clinton was to blame. But this isn't the first time Clinton has found herself characterized as at fault. In fact, you might even say it has become fairly routine to blame Clinton for anything and everything.
While working in politics certainly leaves one open to criticism, such scrutiny has seemed especially relentless and unforgiving when directed at Clinton. Over the years, she's been blamed and criticized for a number of things, including political unrest abroad, an execution in Iran, co-founding the Islamic State, and even putting Donald Trump in the White House.
At times the criticisms against Clinton have been conflicting, trapping the 2016 Democratic nominee in an unescapable damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't cycle. First she smiled too little, then she was smiling too much. It seemed as if a lack of facial expression, or for that matter a laugh, could please the political pundits. And as for her voice? Don't even get them started. The actions of grown adult men are also Clinton's fault. Melania Trump bombed big time in her first major speech but that, too, is clearly Clinton's fault.
It seems as if even Clinton is aware of the phenomenon. "I have a feeling that by the end of the evening, I will be blamed for everything that's ever happened," she once quipped during the third presidential debate of the 2016 election, as Trump attempted to hold her responsible for every economic policy made in the last three decades.
But perhaps even more interesting than Clinton's awareness of the world's infatuation with piling blame at her feet was Trump's nonchalant response to the idea of blaming her for literally everything. "Why not?" he said with a shrug.
Here are 25 things Clinton has, at one point or another, been blamed for (we'll leave it up to you whether that criticism was warranted or not):
1. For Travelgate
Given Clinton's long history in the political spotlight, it's not unusual that the list of things she's been blamed for dates back a few decades. In 1993, critics attempted to blame Bill and Hillary Clinton for a series of firings in the White House travel office, accusing them of clearing out seven employees so they could give their friends jobs. At the time, however, the White House claimed the employees were terminated over ethics issues and problems with financial record keeping, NPR reported. An investigation into the matter was reportedly launched with the involvement of a congressional panel, special prosecutors, and the Justice Department but no independent counsel could find reason to blame Bill or Hillary.
2. For The Death Of Vince Foster
In 1993, the Clintons fought off another ugly conspiracy theory, this one an attempt to paint them as murderers. Many Republicans on the far-right, including Donald Trump Jr., have attempted to link the Clintons to the 1993 death of White House lawyer Vince Foster on the basis that he'd led ethics investigations into them. However, investigations into the matter have ruled Foster's death a suicide.
3. For Bill Clinton's infidelity
It wasn't long after allegations of infidelity first surfaced in the mid-90s that many critics began attempting to blame Hillary for her husband's behavior. Over the years she has been criticized for enabling him, for defending him, and for somehow being responsible for his transgressions in the first place.
Critics have also maligned her for lashing out at women who brought allegations against her husband. During the 2016 presidential election, however, things took a decidedly nasty turn when then-Trump surrogate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani implied that because Clinton had stood by her husband she was "too stupid to be president."
"After being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn't know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you're too stupid to be president," Giuliani said in a video captured by Elite Daily reporter Alexandra Svokos.
4. For Benghazi
Republicans have long sought to hold Clinton responsible for the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Many Republicans have blamed Clinton, who served as secretary of state at the time of the attack, for not doing enough to protect Americans stationed in Libya. In fact, the GOP has an entire website devoted to these accusations.
For example, at the 2016 Republican National Convention then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence claimed "it was Hillary Clinton who left Americans in harm's way in Benghazi and after four Americans fell, said: What difference, at this point, does it make?"
5. For Allegedly Compromising Government Secrets With Her Private Email Server
Nowadays, it's difficult to talk about Clinton without talking about her use of a private email server while working as secretary of state. While past secretaries of state have also used private email addresses, Clinton's transgression came at a time when such practices were widely considered off limits for government officials due partially to security concerns and because it could potentially enable the officials to keep certain information private.
Although the law which currently requires all government officials to send or transfer any emails sent to their private addresses to government servers was not put in place until after Clinton's tenure as secretary of State was over, some have charged her with violating protocol and potentially compromising confidential information.
Clinton has claimed her decision to forgo a government email account was merely a matter of convenience and, ultimately, an FBI investigation found no wrongdoing.
6. For Political Unrest In Turkey
In a speech delivered just one day after dozens were killed in an attempted coup in Turkey, Trump placed the blame for unrest within the American ally squarely at Clinton's feet. "We're seeing unrest in Turkey, a further demonstration of the failures of Obama-Clinton," the Hill reported Trump said in a speech intended to introduce Mike Pence as his running mate. "You just have to look ― every single thing they've touched has turned to horrible, horrible, death-defying problems."
7. For The Bastille Day Terror Attack In Nice, France
In that same speech Trump also attempted to blame Clinton (and Obama) for a terrorist attack in Nice, France that left more than 80 people dead on Bastille Day in 2016. However, Trump's blame was a bit circular. He blamed Clinton and Obama for instability in the Middle East, which he then said led to the attack in Nice.
8. For Drumming Up Outrage Over Melania Trump's Allegedly Plagiarized RNC Speech
Although Clinton had, at the time, not spoken out about the speech Melania Trump gave at the Republican National Convention — a speech many alleged had been heavily copied from previous First Lady Michelle Obama — the Trump campaign accused her of instigating the backlash against Melania.
"There's a political tint to this whole issue," Time reported Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager at the time, told reporters at a press conference. "We've noted that the Clinton camp was the first to get it out there and trying to say that there was something untoward about the speech that Melania Trump gave. It's just another example, as far as we're concerned, that when Hillary Clinton is threatened by a female, the first thing she does is try to destroy the person."
9. For The Death Of An Iranian Scientist
In early August, Trump attempted to tie the execution of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri to Clinton and her use of a private email server. Although Amiri had initially defected to the United States, he returned to Iran at the end of 2010. In 2016, the Iranian Judiciary Ministry announced Amiri had been executed after being convicted of being a U.S. spy.
"Many people are saying that the Iranians killed the scientist who helped the U.S. because of Hillary Clinton's hacked emails," Trump wrote in a tweet published Aug. 8.
Amiri had reportedly been named as a defector in one of Clinton's emails, which were released by the State Department. However, the FBI concluded there was no "direct evidence" of a successful hack on Clinton's email, the New York Post reported. A Clinton campaign spokesman accused Trump of fabricating rumors.
10. For Anthony Weiner's Sexting
This was perhaps one of Trump's weirdest "Thanks, Hillary" moments. Shortly after Clinton aide Huma Abedin announced her separation from Anthony Weiner in light of the news he'd sexted a photo of himself to another woman in which his son was visible in the background, the Trump campaign released a statement entitled "Donald J. Trump Statement on Hillary Clinton's Bad Judgement." In the statement, Trump attempted to argue Clinton had compromised the nation's security by allegedly allowing Weiner to be in "such close proximity" to potentially classified information.
"I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity to highly classified information," Trump said in the statement. "Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton's bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this."
11. For Pizzagate
The 2016 presidential election was filled with more than a few unbelievable moments. Among the most unbelievable was pizzagate, a dubunked conspiracy theory alleging that Clinton ran a child sex ring from the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor with her campaign chairman John Podesta.
This conspiracy theory proved particularly dangerous, however, when a North Carolina man brought – and fired – an AR-15 rifle to the pizza parlor in question with the intent of "investigating" the claims. At one point residents in the pizza parlor's neighborhood reportedly received fliers pinpointing Clinton as a child abuser in their mailboxes.
12. For Starting The Birther Conspiracy theory
Near the end of the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump attempted to blame Hillary Clinton for starting conspiracy theories regarding former President Barack Obama's citizenship. "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy," Trump told reporters during a Sept. 16, 2016 press conference. "I finished it."
A statement released by the Trump campaign the day before the presser claimed the birther controversy was "vicious and conniving behavior... straight from the Clinton Playbook." The Trump campaign also alleged that "Clinton was too weak to get an answer" and "Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised."
However, multiple outlets geared at fact-checking, including PolitiFact, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post have debunked Trump's claim.
13. For An Increase In Terrorist Attacks
While on the campaign trail in 2016, Trump accused Clinton of being the catalyst behind the increase in terrorist attacks in the United States, blaming her "weakness" and "ineffectiveness."
"She very much caused the problem, when you think about it," the Washington Post reported Trump said during a September campaign rally in Florida in reference to Clinton's alleged link to the San Bernardino terror attack. "Her weakness, her ineffectiveness, caused the problem. And now she wants to be president? I don't think so. Hillary Clinton is a weak and ineffective person. And I will tell you, if you choose Donald Trump, these problems are going to go away." Trump went on to say Clinton's refusal to say "radical Islam" was proof she was not willing to get tough on terror.
14. For Founding The Islamic State
In August of 2016, Trump attempted to blame both Clinton and then-President Barack Obama for the Islamic State, a jihadist group responsible for numerous terrorist attacks around the world. In an Aug. 10 campaign rally speech delivered at Broward County arena Trump alleged the terrorist group was "honoring" Obama. "He is the founder of ISIS," Trump said in reference to President Obama. "He is the founder of ISIS, okay? He is the founder. He founded ISIS. And I would say the cofounder would be crooked Hillary Clinton." Clinton's campaign later rebuffed the accusation, calling it a "false claim."
15. For Bill Clinton's approval of NAFTA
During the first presidential debate of the 2016 presidential election, Trump attempted to blame Clinton for her husband's approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Trump called NAFTA "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country" and attempted to blame her for it.
While Clinton did express support for NAFTA as the first lady, she appeared to withdraw her support for the treaty – and free trade in general – after she became a senator. In fact, her supposed "flip" on the issue became a point of criticism used by Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
16. For Allegedly Rigging The 2016 Election
Trump accused Clinton and her campaign of collaborating with the media in an attempt to "rig" the 2016 election. The then-Republican nominee accused his rival of facilitating "fake news" and carrying out voter fraud.
17. For Trump Potentially Not Paying Federal Taxes For More Than 18 Years
In another one of the Trump team's odd deflections, Sarah Huckabee Sanders once charged Clinton with being the one who'd "helped create" the tax code that allowed Trump to declare an almost $1 billion loss in 1995 which may have enabled him to avoid paying federal taxes for more than 18 years. "Hillary Clinton is the one to blame here," Huckabee Sanders told MSNBC.
In an Arizona campaign rally speech, Trump lashed out at Clinton directly, asking "Why didn't she [as New York senator from 2001 to 2009] ever try to change those laws so I couldn't use them?," the Wall Street Journal reported. He went on to charge "the reason that she did not do that is her donors and contributors have used those same tax laws as I did." He claimed Clinton's friends used the tax code "the same way" he did.
18. For The Firebombing Of A GOP Office In NC
Without citing any evidence Trump attributed the vandalism and fire bomb attack of a Republican office in Hillsborough, North Carolina to "animals representing Hillary Clinton" in a tweet published Oct. 16, 2016. Trump claimed Clinton and local Democrats had carried out the attack because Republicans were "winning."
Ignoring Trump's accusation, Clinton called the attack "horrific and unacceptable" in a statement of her own.
19. For Violence At A Trump Campaign Rally In Chicago
During the final presidential debate of the 2016 election, Trump blamed Clinton for violence that broke out ahead of a Trump campaign rally planned for Chicago earlier in the year.
"I believe it was her campaign that did it," Trump said during the debate in reference to the violence. "Just like, if you look at what came out today on the clips, where I was wondering, what happened with my rally in Chicago and rallies where we had such violence? She's the one, and Obama, that caused the violence. They hired people and they pay them $1,500 dollars and they're on tape saying, 'be violent, cause fights, do bad things.'... In particular, in Chicago, people were hurt and people could have killed in that riot. And that's now all on tape started by her."
20. For The Death Of Capt. Humayun Khan
Shortly after Trump attacked the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a Muslim American who was killed in action during the Iraq War in 2004, a Trump campaign spokesperson attempted to blame Clinton for the solider's death.
"Donald Trump never voted for the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton did and then she didn't support the troops to have what they need," Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said in an Aug. 2 interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. "It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagements that probably cost his life."
Capt. Khan was killed on June 8, 2004. At that time Clinton was three years into her first term as a New York senator. However, Obama's senate career did not begin until 2005 and he was not sworn in as president until 2009.
21. For Trump's Election Win
Clinton found herself the target of blame even in her defeat. According to the Huffington Post, it wasn't long after Trump's election victory was announced that some folks began shifting the blame for Trump's rise to power onto Clinton's pantsuit-clad shoulders. Arguments centered around how Sen. Bernie Sanders would have been able to defeat Trump had Clinton stepped down during the Democratic primary sought to cast the Democratic nominee as the party responsible for electing Trump to the White House.
22. For Tom Perez's 2017 Democratic National Committee Chair Win
It wasn't long until Trump, who by this time had already been president for a month, lashed out at Clinton for "rigging" the 2017 Democratic National Committee (DNC) race. In the election for DNC chair, Tom Perez bested Keith Ellison after two rounds of voting. "The race for DNC Chairman was, of course, totally 'rigged,'" Trump tweeted Feb. 26. "Bernie's guy, like Bernie himself, never had a chance. Clinton demanded Perez!"
While Perez, an establishment favorite, did enjoy the endorsement of former President Barack Obama and the support of Clinton's loyalists, it's unclear how the former secretary of state might have "rigged" the DNC election in his favor. Moreover, in his first act as DNC chair, Perez appointed Ellison as deputy chair.
23. For The GOP's Lack Of A Plan For Health Care Reform
In an apparent effort to take the heat of their own lack of a plan for health care reform, the official twitter account of the Republican National Committee sought to blame Clinton for Washington's seemingly unprepared state. "Where's your plan, @HillaryClinton?," the RNC tweeted.
But there was one major problem with the RNC's strategy. The tweet dropped in July, seven months after Trump had been sworn in as president and at a time when Clinton wasn't even an elected official. Moreover, Clinton's plan for health care has remained available online here since she'd revealed it during the course of the 2016 presidential election.
24. For Allowing North Korea To Build Nukes
In September, Trump moved to blame Clinton for North Korea's nuclear program, alleging she was responsible for "allowing North Korea to research and build Nukes while Secretary of State" in a tweet published in late September. His accusation was reportedly a response to Clinton's criticism of his dealings with Pyongyang.
25. For Being Complicit To Harvey Weinstein's Alleged Sexual Harassment
It wasn't long after the New York Times published a bombshell report alleging film producer Harvey Weinstein had managed to keep allegations of sexual harassment quiet for nearly three decades that Clinton began to feel the heat. Almost immediately, conservatives began to criticize Clinton for both her ties to Weinstein and for her delay in responding to the allegations raised against him.
Weinstein's spokesperson responded to the allegations:
Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual.
Even when she did respond, pledging to donate at least $13,000 to a women's organization in an effort to "give back" every campaign contribution Weinstein ever gave dating back to her 2000 Senate primary race, she was still blamed as critics alleged she "must have known" about Weinstein's alleged behavior. She was even criticized by Anthony Bourdain for not being "louder" or more "forceful" in her response.
In an interview with CNN, Clinton had said she "was appalled" by the reports regarding Weinstein, adding she felt such behavior was "just intolerable in every way."
In 2009, someone somewhere tweeted two words that would eventually become the meme that defined former President Obama's presidency: "Thanks, Obama." Over the years, "Thanks, Obama" would become synonymous for both serious and sarcastic examples of Obama's real or imagined impact on everything from jobs and the economy to the price of milk and Twitter users' dating lives. While "Thanks, Clinton" hasn't quite caught on in the same way, the former secretary of state and 2016 presidential candidate continues to find herself blamed for a number of things she may or may not have any connection to.