Juanita Broaddrick has spent years asking people to believe that in 1978, Bill Clinton, who was then running for the governor of Arkansas, raped her in a Little Rock hotel room. Of all of the sexual harassment and assault accusations against Clinton, hers was the worst, and can't be casually shrugged off in the same manner as so many brushed aside what happened to Monica Lewinsky. She told her story on Dateline in 1999 and since then has been an anti-Clinton partisan, criticizing both Bill and Hillary, who she claims made a veiled threat against her. (The Clintons have denied all wrongdoing.)
During the 2016 campaign, Broaddrick penned a viral Twitter thread detailing the alleged rape—a story she has told many times before—and was warmly embraced by Donald Trump and his supporters, even showing up as Trump's guest for an October debate along with three other women who had accused Clinton of abuse. Given that that debate was just days after video surfaced of Trump bragging about grabbing women by the pussy, a lot of commenters dismissed Trump's move as a stunt, but since then liberals have been wrestling with Broaddrick's accusations amid a reconsidering of Clinton's actions. Last November New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote a piece headlined "I Believe Juanita."
Meanwhile, conservatives have welcomed Broaddrick into their movement with open arms. She has a lively Twitter presence who has frequent friendly interactions with right-wing firebrands like Laura Loomer and Candace Owens, posts anti-Comey memes, and recently joked that the new novel Bill Clinton co-authored with James Patterson should actually be called "Why Rape Is Acceptable". After Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault, Broaddrick responded to right-wing agitator Dinesh D'Souza's tweet asking if we should "hold the other Bill accountable" with, "yes, it is time."
Broaddrick obviously occupies a strange position in the political landscape, and she considers herself largely apolitical. "I was very, very happy in my life, until Bill Clinton walked in," she told me over the phone. "I became very successful even with this rape hanging in my memory and in my mind. I think I worked so hard to try to forget. [Now] I have a good life. I have bad memories at times, but I truly have a good life."
I called her to discuss the recent Cosby verdict, but we also spoke about why she supports Trump and what she has to say to the women who have accused the president of sexual assault.
VICE: Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict was a rare triumph of justice—how did it make you feel?
Juanita Broaddrick: I had such mixed feelings, Eve, because I started watching Bill Cosby back when he was on I Spy, when I was much younger, and I just loved him all these years. When all these allegations first came out, it was so disheartening to me, to think of that lovable Dr. Huxtable character doing anything like that. But I tried to keep an open mind about it. I don’t know if you remember when all of [Cosby's accusers] came forward on TV. When I watched them, I could just feel their pain. I could really identify with what they were going through. I did not have a complete idea of, "Is this true? Is this not true? Are they telling the truth?" I sorta lean towards the victims, but to me, when it came down there was a verdict, and a jury had heard it, then I felt really good, and that’s why I tweeted what I did that day.
Did it make you feel hopeful about the prospect of Bill Clinton facing consequences for his actions?
It did. It was one of those little slight barriers was knocked down for me, I thought if this man could be brought forward—you know, he was so popular—then there’s always that slight possibility that maybe sometime, in time, Bill Clinton will have to answer.
Do you identify as a conservative or a Republican?
No. I say that I’m a conservative because I voted for Trump, but I am so politically ignorant when it comes to—you know, I vote for the person or I vote against the person. I was a big Obama donor, because he was running against Hillary, and then I went for Bush back when he was elected, and both of the Bushes. I’m a person voter.
So it’s about the individual candidate as opposed to the party?
Yes. Although I’m identifying more with the conservatives now because those are the ones that reach out to me, and are so sympathetic. So I’m sorta grouped into that because they have been so compassionate to me.
Was it during the election that you got more involved because of pro-Trump people's sympathy for you?
No it was because I was against Hillary and Bill Clinton. I wasn’t a Trump supporter until way on late, probably midyear 2016. It was difficult for me because he was just so brash, but still, I was sorta holding out that hopefully he would say some of the things that I wanted to hear, and he did, regarding many things that affect my life.
I didn’t really jump on what they call the “Trump train” until Sean Hannity was interviewing Trump, and he was talking about the women’s allegations and Trump was saying—and I’m trying to paraphrase right now—he said, “You know, the New York Times didn’t talk to Juanita Broaddrick or Kathleen Wiley or Paula Jones about exposure and sexual assault.”
And Mr. Trump said “rape.” I almost fell out of my chair. It was as though he was talking to me.
Yes, especially because you’ve dealt with so many years of people not believing your story. Saying that on TV is powerful.
It was absolutely shocking. And it was probably at that point on that I used the term “rape” more liberally because it really personified what I had gone through. So many times, Eve, before then, I had always said, “sexual assault.” Even when Lisa Meyers interviewed me on Dateline, I would cringe when she would say that word. And I don’t know if it was because it just brought all the memories, but it was just always so much easier to say, “sexual assault.” It wasn’t as painful.
I know that you’ve spent so many years having to relive this extremely traumatic moment and talk about it a lot. Has that negatively impacted you?
No. In fact, talking about it is what has made me get over so many of the bad things that happened to me. Even being a registered nurse, I never sought counseling. I just thought I could handle this on my own. The only people I could talk to was the very few that I told after it happened and I really didn’t have an outlet. I held this in for so many years, and probably never would have come forward in the beginning—of course, I was outed by Paula Jones—I would’ve never come forward had I not been outed by her.
After the Dateline interview, I just sorta went back into the woodwork, I wanted nothing to do with it because I was so embarrassed. I was still ashamed, and I just wanted to forget that interview, which is what I did for so many years, but then, in November or December of 2015, when Hillary tweeted what she did.
I thought, “My god, how can you say that?” I just sorta went ballistic. These words cannot come out of her mouth. Not after what she put all of the Clinton women through. It just wasn’t right. That’s when I got my grandson to teach me how to use Twitter and I sent out that first tweet. Of course, she later removed “you should be believed” from her website.
What do you say to the people who say that Hillary shouldn’t be blamed for Bill’s crimes?
I personally feel that she enabled him. She wanted him to stay in power, she wanted to do what she could, because she had her own ideas about what she wanted to do as a politician.
I know that Trump has been very supportive of you and believing your story, but many women have accused him of sexual misconduct. How do you reconcile that? What would you say to the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault?
I think they should be heard. I think any person that has a story to tell about sexual assault, whether it be a man or a woman or a child, I think we should listen to them and give them our utmost attention. But it’s like the Bill Cosby case—until this is brought to some end, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. All I know is what happened to me. I hope if these are legitimate claims against President Trump, that these women are listened to and they have their day in court.
Would you feel betrayed by Trump if it turns out these accusations are true?
Oh gosh, I don’t know. I would have to wait until that time came and then have to deal with it. I keep it in the back of my mind thinking and hoping that they’re not true.
What do you say to the people who dismiss your claims based off your support of Trump?
You know, that’s their right. They just have to listen to their own heart and their own feelings on what they feel. I have people on Twitter every day that will make some very derogatory comments about me, especially about how I came forward about Hillary, not knowing that I had come forward about her so many years ago and they think it’s all political. What I have to say about being raped by Bill Clinton is not political. That’s just from my heart.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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