Will Bill Clinton's Epstein connection hurt Hillary in 2016?

New details come to light about sex scandal


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 12, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Speculation continues to mount regarding former president Bill Clinton's friendship to seedy billionaire and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein after last month's New York Post article detailed Clinton's potential visits to Epstein's private island, Little St. James.

Now, according to The Post, Bill Clinton was spotted on the island, which is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, by one of Epstein's alleged former underage sex slaves, Virginia Roberts. Now, she claims Little St. James was a hotbed of sexual misconduct with underage girls. And according to a recent article in the British newspaper, The Independent, quote, "Virginia Roberts claims the FBI has videos of her having underage sex with Jeffrey Epstein and, quote, 'powerful friends.'"

Now, it's unclear who those powerful friends are, but one thing is clear, and that is that former President Bill Clinton had a very close relationship with a shady pedophile. 

So to Bill and Hillary Clinton, do they even care if the world finds out about this relationship? Well, apparently, they don't because we called Bill and Hillary Clinton's offices for a statement. So far, we have not heard back.

And joining us now to discuss all of this and the emerging new details from The Washington Examiner is Rebecca Berg. Rebecca, good to see you.  Welcome to the program.

REBECCA BERG, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thanks for having me, Sean.

HANNITY: OK, there was a court case involved in this, and Epstein was asked questions about -- specifically about his relationship with Bill Clinton. He pled the fifth. Tell us the details of that.

BERG: Well, there was this first court case a few years ago, where Epstein was accused and convicted of being a child molester, actually went to prison. But now we're going through a series of lawsuits with some of these women who over the years had sexual relations, potentially, with Epstein.

And one of the accusers, as you mentioned, Virginia Roberts, has come forward in a sworn affidavit, said that on this private island of Epstein's, he was having sex orgies, that some of these women were taken on planes with him.

And the connection here potentially to Bill Clinton, as you mentioned, is that they were close friends. Bill Clinton was traveling with Epstein on some of his private planes. But also in this sworn affidavit, we should note that Virginia Roberts said although she saw Bill Clinton on the island, she never saw him engaging in any of these sexual activities that she outlined.

HANNITY: But she did ask Jeffrey Epstein about, "Well, what is Bill Clinton doing here?" And very kind of odd comment that Epstein made back, "Oh, he owes me." Was that the comment?

BERG: Right. That's what it says in this court case. And so there are many unanswered questions in this case. That is one of them. What was Bill Clinton's role? What was he doing on that island? The big question with this case and this potential scandal as relates to Bill Clinton is, how far does this go? Are there more shoes left to drop? Is there a smoking gun that is going to come out at any point? Or is the evidence we have before us, the flight logs, the sworn affidavit -- is this the extent of the evidence we're going to have?

If that is the case, then it's going to be hard to connect those dots between Jeffrey Epstein and his actions and Bill Clinton.

HANNITY: Well, we do know that they had, according to flight logs -- they've taken a number of trips together, including to the island a number of times. And also, there was a trip that was reported even this week about a trip to see the Sultan of Brunei, who doesn't exactly have the best reputation in terms of the treatment of women, right?

BERG: No. And so there's plenty of tantalizing detail here that we can maybe draw conclusions from. But without that smoking gun, without that explicit evidence that Bill Clinton was doing something wrong, it's really left to our imagination.

But when you talk about this in the context of Hillary Clinton's potential presidential campaign in 2016, when the Clintons will be subjected to greater scrutiny than they've been subjected in years, then this is going to come up, potentially. And even if there is no smoking gun that ties Bill Clinton to Jeffrey Epstein and his sexual dalliances, this does invoke memories of what Bill Clinton was doing in the '90s, of Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky, and that could create some problems.

HANNITY: Last question. And the world has really changed. If you look at, for example, Bill Cosby, or more recently, the issue with Brian Williams and then Hillary Clinton's comments about being under sniper fire in Bosnia, when, in fact, that was a lie -- there seem to be a number of issues hanging out there, fair to say?

BERG: Fair to say. And all of this is going to be litigated in 2016, perhaps even more so than in 2008 because we're looking at a completely different media beast that Hillary Clinton is going to have to contend with, Twitter, the Internet. It's a completely different playing field for her. And so to see how the Clinton camps take this on will be very interesting.

I was speaking to one Hillary Clinton ally today, though, related specifically to this Epstein business, and it looks like her campaign isn't going to touch this even with the longest stick. They say Bill Clinton is not on the ballot. Hillary Clinton is her own person. We'll see if voters believe that, too.

HANNITY: All right, Rebecca, thank you so much.

Now, the big question tonight is, could Bill Clinton's questionable connections to the convicted pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein -- will it hurt, potentially, Hillary Clinton come 2016? One thing for sure is we haven't seen Hillary Clinton speak in public for quite some time. Now, the RNC thinks she's in hiding because according to their calculations, it has been over 200 days since she's done a press conference, more than 180 days since she sat down for an interview.

And joining us now with reaction, we have Democratic strategist and pollster -- Jessica Tarlov is with is. And the co-host of "Outnumbered," our friend, Katie Pavlich is back with us. Where's Hillary? She goes missing in action, the laser (ph)...

JESSICA TARLOV, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND POLLSTER: Not quite. She's -- I mean, she's building a campaign team, right? She's honing her message. She's taking her time. She doesn't need to be out there right now. I mean, she's so far ahead in the Democratic field. And she has the edge also in the general election polls. What does she need to be running around right now?

HANNITY: I have, believe it or not, my little spies inside of Hillary's camp.

TARLOV: You do?

HANNITY: People very close to the campaign.

TARLOV: They better not find out!

HANNITY: Yes, they're going to be looking because...

TARLOV: Espionage.

HANNITY: ... I'm now saying (INAUDIBLE) In my own way, I'm just doing my job. They tell me the level of paranoia is Def Con Five, that they are...


HANNITY: ... about this story, about his relationship...


HANNITY: ... with Jeffrey Epstein.

TARLOV: I really can't comment on that. I don't have little spies in the Hillary campaign, certainly that I'm going to out on TV. But what I would say is...

HANNITY: I didn't mention them by name. You can say you have friends in the campaign. You do.

TARLOV: Yes. I do have friends in the campaign.

HANNITY: But they're afraid of this, as they're really equally afraid of Bosnia, as they're afraid of Sir Edmund Hillary, as they're afraid of, you know, a whole variety of tall tales!

TARLOV: It's not a great week for these stories, for sure, but that doesn't mean that this is going to bring Hillary down.

KATIE PAVLICH, "OUTNUMBERED" CO-HOST: I think that they're more concerned about what Hillary's going to look like as a candidate early on.  We saw what happened with her book tour. They're seeing on the Democratic side...

HANNITY: It bombed.

PAVLICH: It did. But they're seeing on the Democratic side that they don't have a deep bench. And they don't want Hillary to go out the year when Republicans are going to be fighting in a primary, making more gaffes than she actually has to for Republicans to use against her. And of course, they're going to keep silent on all these scandals that are bubbling up, as well.

HANNITY: How does she get away with the, Oh, I came-- coming under sniper fire -- not true -- Oh, I was sleep-deprived, I misremembered -- and, Oh -- you know, and...

PAVLICH: She's a Democrat, right?


PAVLICH: There's another standard for the left when it comes to telling my (ph) lies about what is and isn't true, what they get away with as public officials in terms of what they actually do, versus what actually happened, what they say. And Hillary Clinton is a perfect example of that, which shows why she's so popular in all these polls, because she hasn't been held accountable by the media for...

HANNITY: But she's not as popular. There's a poll that came out this week, she's losing to Elizabeth Warren in Iowa and New Hampshire!

PAVLICH: And New Hampshire.

TARLOV: I mean, it's, first of all, within the margin of error, and actually...

HANNITY: Not Iowa. The margin of error...

TARLOV: In New Hampshire.

HANNITY: ... in New Hampshire.

TARLOV: Right. And I mean, Hillary will have to take on more of Elizabeth Warren's messaging about income equality and these big ideas and...

HANNITY: So she's going to have to go hard left. That hurts her...


TARLOV: It will hurt her a little bit. But it's not -- those opinions are not in congress (ph) with what Hillary Clinton really believes. I mean, she will have to satisfy (ph) the fact that she is close to Wall Street to some degree, and the fact that she has to pick up Obama's...


HANNITY: Isn't the hardest thing close -- isn't the hardest thing, though, that she's close to Obama and Obama's views...

PAVLICH: ... she's close to President Obama. She's also close to her husband, who, of course, has his own issues that are still coming out of the closet. But on the issue of President Obama, she's going to have to distance herself from the administration. And it's going to be very difficult for her to continue to do that while she's out in the public sphere ahead of a Republican primary, when she doesn't necessarily have to do that.

They're keeping -- it is in the best interests for the Democratic Party and for Hillary Clinton to keep her away from the press, locked away, not commenting on anything that happens. She can't be out there making all these gaffes. It is in their interests not to have her out there. And because their bench is not very deep and because it's shallow, she doesn't have to be out there at this point. She can wait as long as she wants to, up to a certain point, and not be out in public.

HANNITY: So in other words, this is not the slam dunk -- Democrats that I know are really nervous about her candidacy.

TARLOV: It shouldn't be a slam dunk, right? I mean, elections are all about hearing both sides, right, and making an informed decision. I mean, I think it's a slam dunk in the Democrat primary because Elizabeth Warren has said she's not getting involved. I can't see Jim Webb sneaking up on her, or Bernie Sanders or people with no name recognition in the country.

HANNITY: We'll see. Guys, good to see you both. Thank you.

TARLOV: Thank you.

PAVLICH: Thank you.

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