One of several women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct is speaking out, saying Hillary Clinton shouldn't be exempt from criticism over her handling of the affairs that nearly ended her husband's presidency in the 1990s.
Kathleen Willey — a former volunteer White House aide who accused Bill Clinton of making aggressive, unwanted advances during a private meeting in 1993 — said she holds Hillary Clinton responsible for smearing her and the many other women who have come forward with stories about their treatment at the hands of her husband.
"This no longer about Bill Clinton's transgressions or his infidelities or girlfriends or sex ... it's not about that anymore," Willey told the Washington Examiner. "What it's about is the actions that his wife has taken against the women that he has raped and assaulted."
None of the allegations of sexual misconduct levied against Bill Clinton during his decades in the public eye have ever been proven definitively. The former president has denied the accusations, admitting only to consensual relations with Monica Lewinsky and Gennifer Flowers.
As Donald Trump clumsily navigated a controversy this week over 19-year-old comments he made to a former Miss Universe winner, a debate raged about whether similarly dated scandals with ties to his opponent — each of which involved the alleged mistreatment of women — were fair game on the campaign trail.
Republican strategists agreed that attacking Hillary Clinton for the exploits of her husband could easily backfire, and Democrats preemptively dismissed the tactic as unfair and potentially sexist.
But a few of Trump's allies have begun to lay the groundwork for an assault that focuses on Hillary Clinton's role in silencing her husband's self-professed lovers and alleged victims. They say Hillary Clinton's involvement in efforts to discredit and disparage women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual harassment, assault and even rape make the scandals relevant to the presidential race.
Willey said she has bristled at Hillary Clinton's attempts to convince voters of her commitment to protecting women.
"Hillary Clinton's been calling me a bimbo for 19 years, as well as Paula [Jones] and Juanita [Broaddrick] and Gennifer," Willey said.
"She, you know, doesn't have any room to talk," Willey added
Jones' 1994 sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton ultimately exposed additional alleged affairs and incidents, including his relationship with Lewinsky. While the former White House intern and the president himself initially denied any inappropriate contact during depositions in the Jones case, recordings, documents and DNA evidence later proved that Bill Clinton had lied under oath about their affair.
The House voted to impeach him based on the perjury charges, but he was later acquitted when the Senate failed to muster the votes to remove him from office.
Broaddrick has accused Bill Clinton of raping her in 1978 during his campaign for governor of Arkansas. Because she initially filed an affidavit in the Jones suit denying the rape out of fear of retaliation, then recounted the rape to federal investigators in the Whitewater probe, many Clinton allies tried at the time to paint her as an unreliable witness.
Willey, too, was caught up in the explosive Jones case. Her encounter with Bill Clinton was exposed publicly when, in 1997, Matt Drudge published her name on his popular Drudge Report website.
"Matt Drudge got my name, because Paula Jones' attorneys started looking for other women and I had told some people I trusted, and my name got out there," Willey said. "I never had any intention of telling the story of what happened to me. I was forced to."
Defenders of the Clintons tried to discredit Willey publicly as the case wore on, and Bill Clinton denied groping her and forcibly kissing her.
The former president admitted in a deposition only that "he may have kissed her on the forehead" during the 1993 meeting when the alleged episode took place, according to a 1998 report.
"They can read whatever they want to read into it," Willey said of suggestions over the years that she had fabricated her account. "Of course I knew that they were going to try to discredit me."
Willey said lawyers and "hired guns" she believed to have been working for the Clintons tried to intimidate her into silence in the weeks before she testified in the Jones case, including by vandalizing her car and breaking into her home.
Through a new website aimed at contacting women who may have experienced similar treatment from Bill Clinton, Willey said she is presently in touch with many others who have been "terrified into silence" by the Clintons. Some, she said, may be considering making their stories public.
No allegations of the more extreme intimidation tactics used by the Clintons have ever been proven.
Last year, Hillary Clinton began touting the idea that all rape accusers have "the right to be believed," a stump speech line that immediately drew fire from critics who pointed to the Democratic nominee's history of disagreeing with women who accused her husband of rape, assault or unwanted advances.
The Clinton campaign removed the "right to be believed" statement from her website in February after Broaddrick came forward and repeated her assertion that Hillary Clinton was complicit in attempts to suppress her story.
Hillary Clinton's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
WIlley, who supports Trump, said she has not been contacted by the Trump campaign but said she would be happy to campaign for him if he asked.