After hinting that he might try to use Bill Clinton's infidelities against Hillary Clinton shortly before the first debate of the general election, Donald Trump did a little more than hint at the same before the second contest. In the written and video responses he offered on Friday to the vulgar video recorded in 2005, Trump compared himself to his opponent's husband. On Saturday, he retweeted messages from Juanita Broaddrick, a woman who has accused Clinton of having raped her during his time as governor of Arkansas. On Sunday, Trump tweeted a link to an interview with Broaddrick and two other women who claim Clinton harassed or assaulted them.
Regardless of how you view the merits of the allegations and whether you think raising the issues will help or hurt Donald Trump politically, it's pretty easy to see why the candidate has embraced the idea of going after the former president (and, by extension, the current Democratic nominee): Trump has surrounded himself with a number of the most highly visible Clinton-fighters of the past two decades. Some are even members of Trump's senior campaign staff.
With the second debate looming and with it the prospect of Trump pushing forward on the Bill Clinton angle, we put together this look at the anti-Clinton forces in Trump's orbit.
The inner circle
Steve Bannon. Campaign chief executive, chairman of Breitbart News (on leave). Bannon came to the Trump campaign in August, when the candidate was foundering after having botched his convention and his response to Clinton's. Bannon was the force behind the book “Clinton Cash,” written by Breitbart editor Peter Schweitzer, looking through how the Clinton Foundation raised money and suggesting overlap with Clinton's work at the State Department. The book was then turned into a documentary, which can be seen at Breitbart's website.
David Bossie. Deputy campaign manager, former head of Citizens United. Nowadays, “Citizens United” serves as shorthand for “increased money in politics,” thanks to the group acting as plaintiff in Citizens United v. FEC, a Supreme Court decision which allowed increased corporate activity in political campaigns. But the organization wasn't setting out to change election law: It was setting out to fight Hillary Clinton.
Citizens United planned to air a film called “Hillary: The Movie” before the Democratic primaries in 2008, but existing law barred it from doing so. The goal of the film was clear: to undercut Clinton's political position. Bossie served as executive director of the movie and shepherded the organization's fight through the Supreme Court. Earlier this year, The Post's Ruth Marcus described Bossie as “the Captain Ahab of Clinton haters.”
The support crew
Roger Ailes. Informal adviser to the campaign, former chairman of Fox News. Ailes needs little introduction. Before being ousted from the network earlier this year after allegations of sexual harassment and assault emerged, Ailes ran Fox News. Ailes founded the network at the behest of Rupert Murdoch and was instrumental in focusing the network's resources on Bill Clinton during his time in the Oval Office. Ailes's Fox News was one of the loudest voices in calling for Clinton to be impeached.
Rudolph W. Giuliani. Prominent campaign surrogate, former mayor of New York and 2000 Senate candidate. Giuliani's political career ended with his tenure as New York's mayor in December 2001. He hoped to be elected to the U.S. Senate, but he dropped out of the race after the near-simultaneous news both that he had early-stage prostate cancer and that he and his wife were separating following revelations that he'd been having a relationship with another woman. Eight years later, it again seemed as though Clinton and Giuliani would face off, this time in a race for the presidency. Each the early front-runners, neither received the nomination.
In preparation for the 2000 campaign, Giuliani's campaign tested the idea of using Bill Clinton's infidelities to undercut Hillary Clinton's candidacy. The idea met with a strongly negative reaction.
Newt Gingrich. Campaign surrogate, former speaker of the House. Gingrich was probably Bill Clinton's most ferocious opponent in the 1990s, battling the president on policy issues and eventually forcing a shutdown of the federal government. After the revelation that Clinton had carried on an affair with Monica Lewinsky, Gingrich pushed Republicans to use the issue on the campaign trail. He orchestrated a last-minute ad blitz on the subject — a move that was seen as having contributed to the Republicans' devastating House losses that year that, in turn, led to his ouster as speaker.
Roger Stone. Longtime Trump confidante, political consultant. Stone, now working with a pro-Trump super PAC, has long pushed for Trump to run for office and to dig up whatever information he could on the Clintons, however specious. Stone co-authored a book released last year called “The Clintons' War on Women.”
Ed Klein. Reporter and author of anti-Clinton books. Klein is probably the most productive anti-Clinton author, having written a number of books that include a number of detailed vignettes of negative behavior from both Clintons. After the release of “Blood Feud,” his book articulating an alleged war between the Clintons and the Obamas, The Week's Marc Ambinder noted that some of Klein's past reporting had been discredited and that the book resulted in “master logician Rush Limbaugh questioning the truthfulness of his dialogue and Fox News hosts finding aggressive ways to question him.” Our Carlos Lozada writes of the dialogue in Klein's latest book: “Klein notes that Clinton swears 'like a drunken sailor,' and he offers examples of her supposed 'vulgar mouth,' although his dubious quotations — always sourced anonymously to Clinton’s closest friends — make the candidate sound like a B-movie gangster.”
Earlier this year, Trump and his top advisers (at the time) had lunch with Klein.
"[T]he visit with Klein,” our Philip Rucker reported, “comes as Trump promises to debut new attacks on the stump about the Clintons.” It seems likely that those attacks are about to escalate substantially.