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Lawyer who highlighted Hillary Clinton’s role in defending rape suspect tapped for key federal civil rights post

Then-candidate Donald Trump sits with Kathy Shelton, right, and Juanita Broaddrick in a hotel conference room in St. Louis shortly before the second presidential debate on Oct. 9, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Candice E. Jackson, who aided Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by highlighting Hillary Clinton’s role in defending a man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl, has been tapped for a key civil rights position at the Education Department, according to her alma mater.

A report from Pepperdine University’s law school, from which Jackson earned a degree in 2002, said Jackson will serve as acting assistant secretary for civil rights. If the report is true, she would temporarily be in charge of the office responsible for enforcing the nation’s civil rights laws in schools, including their handling of campus sexual assault. She also has been hired as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights, according to the university report.

Jackson, a lawyer in Vancouver, announced on her personal website that she has taken a position with Trump’s Education Department. Reached by phone, she said she could not comment on what she hopes to accomplish in the job because she does not officially start for a week.

Donald Trump held a news conference with four women who claim the Clintons mistreated them. The Post’s Glenn Kessler explains their allegations. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post, Photo: Evan Vucci/The Washington Post)

Asked to confirm Jackson’s appointment, an Education Department spokesman declined to comment and a White House spokesman said there were no new personnel announcements.

Under President Barack Obama, the Office for Civil Rights’ aggressive investigations of complaints — and its guidance to schools on issues such as sexual violence and transgender student accommodations — made it a champion of the left and a target of the right. Civil rights advocates, worried that Trump might shrink the office, have been watching closely to see who is tapped to lead it.

Trump could reverse Obama’s actions on college sexual assault, transgender rights

Jackson is the author of the 2005 book “Their Lives: Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine,” which detailed the stories of women such as Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick, who said their lives had been upended and their reputations ruined after crossing paths with former president Bill Clinton.

Jackson’s connections with those women became an asset for the Trump campaign after an “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, on which Trump can be heard bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Trump argued that he was guilty only of locker room talk, whereas Bill Clinton was guilty of actual sexual misconduct, and that Hillary Clinton had helped her husband silence and threaten his accusers.

To make his case, Trump invited three of Clinton’s accusers to be his guests at the second presidential debate, held in St. Louis in October. Jackson helped make arrangements for the women to travel to St. Louis, according to New York magazine and Politico, where they held a news conference with the candidate just before the debate.

The Clintons had long denied the women’s accusations, and Hillary Clinton’s campaign called the news conference an “act of desperation.”

Also at the news conference and in the debate audience was Kathy Shelton, who, as a 12-year-old girl in the 1970s, had accused a man of raping her. Hillary Clinton was selected by a judge to defend the man, who eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. Decades later, as Shelton’s attorney, Jackson helped bring her story into the public eye during the 2016 campaign, arguing that it showed Clinton’s callousness toward victims of sexual assault.

The facts about Hillary Clinton and the Kathy Shelton rape case

As New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman reported in October, Trump adviser Roger Stone said he paid Jackson about $7,000 to travel to Arkansas to produce a video interview with Shelton. Sherman wrote:

A PAC founded by Stone paid Shelton $2,500 for the interviews. “I talked with Roger all summer about this project,” Jackson told me. “We strategized about how we could strategically bring their message out.”

Jackson received a bachelor’s degree at Stanford University and began her career as a lawyer at Judicial Watch, a conservative organization known for using Freedom of Information Act requests to dig up information about elected officials.