Assault allegations: Hillary pivots from Harvey to Donald, spotlight swings to Bill

Hillary Clinton is very much on the defensive about Harvey Weinstein.

So she’s changing the subject to…Donald Trump.

Which is, of course, a classic tactic of deflection that others are trying as well.

The former presidential candidate said she was “shocked and appalled” by the mounting sexual assault and harassment allegations against Weinstein, a big-time Democratic donor who threw a fundraiser for her. The movie mogul also donated $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

Yet it took Clinton nearly six days to be shocked and appalled, even as some of her fellow Democrats were speaking out and returning or donating Weinstein’s donations.

My view is that this is the kind of hyper-caution she exhibited during the campaign. Hillary couldn’t figure out what to do about Harvey, so she said nothing until the pressure got too great. And that drew criticism even from many mainstream journalists. 

On Sunday, Clinton told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that we shouldn’t just focus on Weinstein but “recognize that this behavior cannot be tolerated anywhere, whether it is in entertainment, or politics–after all, we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office. There has to be a recognition that we must stand against this kind of action, which is so sexist and misogynistic.”

Taking a deep breath.

First, Trump has not “admitted” to engaging in sexual assault. On the “Access Hollywood” outtakes, made public a year ago, he talked to Billy Bush about grabbing women—but in his apology, Trump said it was just locker-room talk.

In the wake of that tape, a number of women accused the candidate of harassing or groping them, allegations that Trump denied. Many in the media thought that would derail his campaign, but it didn’t.

It’s worth pointing out, without minimizing those allegations in any way, that five women have now accused Weinstein of rape. 

And by the way, the Clinton Foundation isn’t returning Weinstein’s 250K, saying the money’s already been spent. (Clinton did tell CNN she might donate a similar amount to charity.)

But in decrying sexual assault in the Oval Office, Hillary seems to be airbrushing from history a recent president who did admit having sex with a young staffer in that very space…her husband.

Even if you leave aside the allegations involving Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick and others, there is no evading the fact that Bill Clinton lied about his sexual misconduct with Monica Lewinsky.

When Marr, to his credit, asked about Trump bringing some of her husband’s accusers to the second debate, Hillary Clinton said “that had all been litigated. That was the subject of a huge investigation as you might recall in the late '90s and there were conclusions drawn and that was clearly in the past.”

So, it’s old news? That’s all she’s got?

Trump slapped back with this tweet: “I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020? My answer was, ‘I hope so!’”

Clinton is done running for office, as Trump well knows. She’s out there facing questions because of her book tour, and there was no way she could duck the Weinstein mess.

But by trying to turn the controversy against Trump, she left herself wide open for questions about the 42nd president, unintentionally turning the focus back to the dark days of impeachment. 

 

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.