Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Friday, October 21, 2016

The Hunting Of Hillary: Why Would Anyone Believe Kathleen Willey?

The Hunting Of Hillary: Why Would Anyone Believe Kathleen Willey?

More than 15 years after her debut on the public stage, Kathleen Willey – the Virginia society matron who accused Bill Clinton of groping her in an alcove off the Oval Office – has returned with a vengeance. On Tuesday evening, she appeared on Fox News with anchor Megyn Kelly. Her new message is that Hillary Rodham Clinton “is the war on women,” supposedly guilty of directing a covert campaign to silence women like Willey who were wronged by her husband, the former president. She has also suggested that the Clintons murdered her own husband, Ed Willey, a Richmond lawyer who shot himself after his embezzlement of a client’s funds was exposed.

Willey offered no evidence for her conspiratorial calumnies against the former Secretary of State, but that was hardly surprising. To those who have observed her closely, Willey’s inventive imagination has long been her most notable quality. As an immunized witness for Kenneth Starr’s Office of Independent Counsel, which probed President Clinton’s testimony in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case, Willey proved so unreliable that her testimony could not be used – and the OIC considered prosecuting her for lying to them.

The following excerpt from The Hunting of the President — the bestselling 2000 book about the Clintons and their accusers by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons – indicates that Willey’s honesty and motives were doubtful even before Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff published her account of Clinton’s alleged assault on her.

During the summer of 1997, the Newsweek reporter had approached Linda Tripp, a White House friend of Willey who later became a key Starr witness in the Monica Lewinsky affair, to validate the stunning story after he first interviewed Willey. But as Tripp explained to Isikoff, her recollection of Willey’s own behavior toward Clinton did not even remotely resemble what the supposedly aggrieved woman had told him.

When she got home on the evening of Isikoff’s visit, Tripp called Willey for the first time in almost three years and bluntly accused her of lying to the Newsweek reporter.

“Kathleen, what are you doing?”

Without a hint of doubt, Tripp recalled, Willey coolly rebuffed Tripp’s objections. “You must be misremembering, Linda…Of course it was sexual harassment. I don’t know why you’re now saying that I wanted it.”

“Kathleen, because we talked about it for months before it happened, because you chose your outfits, because you positioned yourself, because you flirted, because you looked for every reason to get in [to see Clinton privately],” Tripp remembered saying, when she described their conversation later. “Why are you now saying that this came as a huge surprise and he assaulted you?

As Tripp testified in vivid detail, Willey’s sudden claims of indignation didn’t remotely resemble the truth about her feelings toward Clinton in 1993. Not only had she been “happy” after the president’s allegedly feverish embrace in the Oval Office, but she and Tripp had been scheming together for months to stage her seduction of him. Tripp claimed her marriage to Ed Willey was loveless, on the verge of divorce. She wanted to move to Washington and have an affair with Clinton. “Kathleen [felt] that it had the potential to be a relationship that would be agreeable to the two of them.” (Tripp’s portrait of Willey was corroborated in sworn testimony by Harolyn Cardozo, another friend of Willey’s and wife of Michael Cardozo, a Washington attorney and the former director of the President’s Legal Expense Trust. Cardozo recalled Willey boasting that she might become “the next Judith Exner” [one of President Kennedy’s mistresses] and pondering how to advance the relationship. We’ve got to get Hillary out of town!” Cardozo recalled her saying, only half in jest.)

Well before the Oval Office incident, Willey had taken Tripp on as her secret romantic adviser, calling to chat in the evenings about her obsession with the president. Tripp admitted encouraged the infatuation because in her view both Clinton and Willey were stuck “in not very good marriages, and it just seemed to be as consenting adults.” She also enjoyed the intrigue, helping Willey gain access to the president’s daily schedule so the pretty matron could arrange to bump into him, always dolled up “to catch his eye.” The two friends would talk about creating the conditions for a tryst, escaping the Secret Service, and “the logistics of how this could work,” Tripp testified. They had even discussed a specific location. Debbie Siebert, a mutual friend whose husband had been named ambassador to Sweden, had quite innocently invited Willey to use their empty house on the water in Annapolis.

After she had finally met with Clinton alone in the Oval Office, Willey had hurried to find Tripp, and met her coming upstairs in an elevator. Right away Tripp noticed her usually immaculate friend’s fed face, bare lips, and mussed hair. “Do you have a lipstick? Come down with me.” Flushed and breathless, Willey dragged her outside to a parking lot and told her about Clinton’s ardent, “forceful,” embrace in graphic terms. Willey praised him, Tripp recalled , as a “great kisser,” and said she had kissed him back despite her fear that someone would walk in on them.

The next day Willey learned that her husband was dead. To Tripp, however, she seemed oddly disengaged in the aftermath of his suicide, even from the practicalities of arranging his funeral. She “didn’t cry, she didn’t dwell or even speak much about Ed,” according to the testimony of Tripp, who spoke with her frequently around that time. Instead, Kathleen talked “almost obsessively” about her encounter with the president. Willey worried that her late husband’s suicide “would be enough to spook [Clinton] for at least a year, that…he would not have anything to do with her on a personal level after this because of the tragedy.

“And I remember she received a call from [Clinton aide] Nancy Hernreich saying that the president wanted to call at an appropriate time to extend his condolences, and Kathleen called back because she apparently had had people at the house helping her and left a message [for the president]: ‘You can call anytime.’”

But as she and Tripp argued over the telephone many months later, Willey kept insisting that Clinton had subjected her to an unwanted mauling. And to Tripp’s astonishment, she realized that Willey “believed everything she was telling me that night.” Willey also confided that what she had really wanted from Clinton was lucrative employment. And although Tripp didn’t realize it that night, Willey’s financial desperation was an important clue to her behavior.

The Newsweek reporter might have put aside the confusing tale of Kathleen Willey, at least temporarily, except for the intervention of the Supreme Court. After the justices ruled unanimously on May 28 that the Jones case should proceed, Isikoff realized that Willey might be the plaintiff’s most valuable witness in discovery and, if necessary, at trial. Jones attorney Joe Cammarata was already aware of her existence if not her identity, and was likely to find her sooner or later. Isikoff had to move quickly. His editors urged him to keep reporting until he had enough to publish.

Isikoff called Willey again in early June, hoping to convince her to go on the record. “Your story is going to have to come out,” he told her. “It’s inevitable.” She still refused.

Her apparent reluctance may have been a sham, although Isikoff had no way of knowing that. She too may have realized that the Supreme Court decision had increased her market value. The same week that she rejected the reporter’s entreaties to go public with her story, she was attempting – as Tripp had done before her – to sell it as a tell-all book. Her literary model was Faye Resnick, the friend of Nicole Brown Simpson whose potboiling account of the events leading up to the O.J. Simpson murder trial had been a quickie bestseller, and a Kathleen Willey favorite.

Willey’s telephone records showed that during the second week of June she had made several calls to top New York literary agencies. She called both International Creative Management and Janklow and Nesbit on June 6. (That same day she also called Publishers Weekly and New York magazine; her three calls to New York, she eventually testified, concerned her subscription to the glossy weekly.) She called both firms again on June 11. While she received little encouragement at either agency, she did get to make her pitch to Lynn Nesbit’s associate Tina Bennett. Under oath, Willey later explained these calls as attempts to seek public relations advice, because she anticipated that Isikoff’s article about her experiences would soon appear in Newsweek and cause a media explosion.

Photo: Aaron Web via Flickr

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • Bill Thompson

    Here we go again the endless and unaccountable barrage of innuendo and accusations. Hillary may as well stand on the top of the Empire State building with a lightning rod in her hand. I can’t imagine why this woman would subject herself to running for president again. Now after her four year appointment as secretary of state and Darrell Isaacs never ending quest on the Benghazi front, this will make for a very long election cycle. The chess pieces are being set as we speak. If Hillary a very capable and competent politician decides to take on this endeavor, I hope she can carry the weight of the world.

    • Theodora30

      The fact is any credible Democratic candidate faces the same kind of dishonest smearing, especially if the mainstream media plays along like it did with the Clintons whom they viewed as usurping rubes from the hinterlands. Contrary to what people think, Obama has gotten off lightly in comparison. After all he has not been subjected to investigation for murder or drug running the way the Clintons were.

      • latebloomingrandma

        Obama has hardly got off lightly. They’ve been trying for 5 years to pin something on him. In addition, militia groups have tripled and he has received more death threats than any other President. And it seems to be fashionable to call him every name in the book on TV and the internet, with no push-back by the Republican party, who welcomes all manner of conspiracy idiots into their party. Clinton gave them a gift with his inability to keep his zipper up. Obama gave them a gift by being black.

        • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

          That’s because the Republican Party as a group is terrified of these far right-wing nutjobs, and their spokespersons – Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent and Sarah Palin.

          • Allan Richardson

            The only way Hillary can show ENOUGH disapproval of Bill’s actions as President to satisfy THESE idiots, would be to publicly display her husband’s (oio) in a jar. This is ridiculous, and it will resonate with all wronged women who have been punished for their men’s misbehavior. Some will remember when wives who knew nothing of their husbands financial and tax evading crimes were sent to jail because they signed their joint tax returns prepared by their husbands. This led Congress to pass, and the IRS to administer, a special form for “innocent spouse relief.”

    • plc97477

      If she is ready to take on the endeavor she will have my vote.

    • JSquercia

      That Issa is a real piece of work . These guys forget that THEY cut the budget for defense of embassies by some 500 million .

  • Theodora30

    Thank you for publishing this and please keep doing it. People need to understand the lengths the far right will go to destroy any Democrat they see as a threat, especially when the so-called liberal media gladly plays along.

    One complaint – this article starts out by asking who would believe Kathleen Willey but neglects to point out that Michael Isikoff did despite all the evidence that she was a delusional crackpot. When Linda Tripp told him Willey was lying that should have been the end of it. Instead Isikoff went with the story which caused a lot of damage.

    Willey’s friend Julie Steele was tormented by Ken Starr for refusing to corroborate Willey’s story. Starr went so far as to investigate the legality of the adoption of Steele’s son from Romania, clearly a serious, not-so-veiled threat. When she still refused to cooperate she was indicted and tried. It ended in a mistrial but Steele had been put through emotional and financial hell.

    Isikoff was a major offender in the mis-reporting of the facts against Clinton yet he is still highly regarded as a great investigative reporter. To this day few people understand how badly our MSM failed in the reporting of the Clinton accusations. Had the New York Times insisted on credible evidence rather than report the claims of David Hale, a known con man who had been caught embezzling $2million from us taxpayers, his bogus Whitewater charges would never have been taken seriously, there would have been no Ken Starr, no Monica scandal, no impeachment and our country could have focused its attention on the real problems facing us. Imagine if reporters had spent their time telling us about the very real threat of terrorist attacks on our airlines instead of obsessing about sex. Maybe public pressure would have been enough to force politicians and airlines to improve our airport security before we were attacked. Of course that kind of reporting would have been more boring for all those egotistical Woodward and Bernstein wannabees.

    Until the journalists and publications pay a price for aiding and abetting, downplaying our ignoring right wing lies our democracy will continue to suffer.

    • plc97477

      I like your fantasy but seeing what the republicans do when Dems are in control makes me wonder if they wouldn’t just find something else to pretend to make a scandal.

    • JSquercia

      Ken Starr is a disgrace to the human race

      • alannah mcgrowdie

        My Uncle Michael
        recently got a stunning black Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL63 AMG only from working
        part time off a home pc. navigate to this web-site F­i­s­c­a­l­M­a­z­e­.­ℂ­o­m

  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    Kathleen Willey was cut from the same cloth as Paula Corbin Jones. Both sought out liaisons with Bill Clinton, and when they didn’t turn out as planned, both tried to attack him and his “integrity”. Now, the Republicans are using Willey again in their plans of attack against Hillary. I can almost see the Vince Foster suicide being resurrected against her as it was during Kenneth Starr’s fleecing of the US Treasury in his unproductive witch hunt.

  • Daniel Jones

    The extreme “truth is less important than scandal” wing of the Wacko Birds love Willey for the simple reason that she’s practically their matron saint.

  • paulyz

    I believe any discussions on Hillary should focus on her deception & lies during & after the Benghazi tragedy. The cover-up that followed because of the upcoming election was disgraceful. 4 Americans died in that fiasco for Pete’s sake.

    • Membelle421

      And when nearly 3000 die on Sept. 11, 2001 that was not George Bush’s fault because he was only in charge for a mear eight months as President ignoring security reports of the potential danger. Yes, it is tragic we lost 4 brave Americans that day, but they knew what they signed up for, foriegn service and cia operations have never been care-free, easy-going, secure assignmets and certainly not after 9/11/01.

    • Sand_Cat

      I think that any post making accusations such as yours should be based on something other than pathological hatred and self-delusion, as your obviously is.

      • joshua88

        I would much prefer that Membelle421 use spell check.

        • Sand_Cat

          Fact-check would be even better.

        • daniel bostdorf

          I would prefer you comment on this article’s content.

          • joshua88

            I was told growing up that if you don’t have something nice to say about someone…

      • daniel bostdorf


        Discussion on Conservative Videos

        Longing for Hope & Change: 71% Regret Voting for Obama

        paulyz • 15 minutes ago

        More evil of 2 evils??? There is no one as evil of corrupt as Obama and they frickin’ know it.

        Discussion on Human Events

        “Senate Democrats are in big trouble in 2014”

        paulyz • 6 hours ago

        “I had a Dream.” When there was no Obama, no Harry Reid, No Nancy Pelosi. The Socialist Democrats out of control of all of our lives. Low taxes, no debt, a balanced-budget, no more Amnesties, following our Constitution.
        Vote those scum OUT of there!

        Discussion on Conservative Byte

        For Republicans To Learn How To Win Over Hispanic Voters, They Need To Look To Texas

        paulyz • 8 hours ago

        LEGAL Hispanics are usually good Conservative Americans, it is just the Millions of Illegals that are the problem. LEGAL Hispanics do not like all the Illegals getting everything from the taxpayers either. NO MORE AMNESTIES, 1. Fully secure the Border, 2. Pass and enforce Mandatory E-verify, & 3. Stop all visa overstays as a 1st. & Separate policy, NOT any more “comprehensive” Amnesties!

        Discussion on Conservative Byte

        You won’t believe what Ann Coulter said about Ted Cruz

        paulyz • 8 hours ago

        One thing I completely agree on Ann Coulter is, to make any changes or STOP Socialism of Democrats, we must remove the Democrats from power FIRST.

        • Allan Richardson

          The truth is that legal Hispanic immigrants have the same political spectrum as Anglo immigrants and other US citizens, depending on income, religion, etc. Other than Cuban-Americans, immigrants who came here to escape poverty tend to be socially conservative on a PERSONAL level, but politically and economically liberal. Most Cuban refugees in the Miami area were wealthy in Cuba and came here because Castro confiscated their wealth, so except for their brief love of JFK, they have become mostly Democrats (JFK lost their support when the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was planned under the previous President, failed). And of course, a few of the wealthy ruling classes from other Hispanic countries came here for vacation, and stayed when their political opponents took power in their countries. Since they brought their wealth with them, and since they want US military power to help them get back in control someday, they are also mostly Republicans.

          Cuban refugees who came at the turn of the 20th century to Tampa were refugees from Spain, and later from Batista, so they actually have a limited admiration for Castro, and they are mostly voting Democratic. The same is true of most other refugees from right wing dictators or right wing economies.

        • plc97477

          His views seem to be straight from faux news.

    • daniel bostdorf

      thank you for your view

    • daniel bostdorf


    • TryToLoveOneAnother

      Far more attacks were made on American embassies during Dubya years. So, let’s hold good ol’ George accountable for those attacks?

      Obama has been a breath of fresh air for the rest of the world, considering the arrogance of the prior administration which preferred to launch wars.

      Hillary is not lying. You just can accept the truth. It seems the only thing you are left with is throwing mud at the wall … maybe something will stick.

      It’s sad to think that anyone died in an embassy attack.

      What I read from republicans is hate, hate, hate and name calling. (Have you ever noticed that you can’t post comments on Republican websites?)

      This has manifested itself into an obstructionist congress that has not passed anything of significance, besides the Affordable Care Act.

      God bless Hillary and Barack! May God grant us 8 more years of a Dem. president and a woman at that.

      Hopefully the voters will have a long enough memory to recall the shutdown of the government by the Republicans and vote them out. Maybe the Dems can get something substantial done in 2014.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Poor Kathleen was one-upped by Monica. I remember someone asking Dee Dee Myers, who is an attractive woman, and served as Clinton’s Press Secretary, if the president ever tried to hit on her. She said —No, because he knew I would have broken his arm. I think all of Clinton’s dalliances were with compliant partners, or at least ones who sent out signals of interest.

  • joshua88

    I have been hearing about this woman since November 7, 2012 – and I had enough on the evening of 11/7/12. Have you polled your readers?

    • Sand_Cat

      I may be misunderstanding you, but I have to say I’m sick of all the coverage of the 2016 election, too: it’s is just a wee bit premature, if not depressing. I’m not a huge Hillary fan, though I have nothing against her. She would of course be a HUGE improvement on any REPUB I can think of, but she’s nowhere near liberal enough to turn the country away from its accelerating downward trajectory, though she may be the only Dem tough enough to trade blows with the lunatics. Has too many haters, too. Almost as many as Obama, not that either of them is to blame for it in any rational sense.
      But you sound like you might disagree?

      • joshua88

        You are, for the most part.

        The Beltway media has been covering 2016 since Mr Obama was just elected. Since it is all ridiculous speculation, my thoughts initially were that I wanted to enjoy this presidency every day until January 20, 1917. Since coverage is non-stop, and too often “above the fold.” it long-ago moved beyond ridiculous. I think there are a few thousand denizens in DC and they spend their time talking to each other. While crap like this is written, real news is not being disseminated.

        To this story, I simply don’t care.

        To the point of a HRC run, I am opposed to dynasties, and there are so many things wrong with her as a candidate, and another Clinton WH, that I’m withholding most of the reasons until the day that Mrs Clinton, if she decides to run, announces. At that point, I will do everything in my power (limited as it is) to dissuade people from supporting her. As a proud Progressive and an American who is fed up with politics, while loving it passionately, I am in the ABH camp. Firmly. For many, many reasons.

        As far as trading blows with the lunatics – you DON’T!

    • daniel bostdorf

      Could you offer us your opinIon about this article? Instead of suggestions for spell check below?

      you post at Politico so we know you have the ability to stay on topic.

      • joshua88

        You are correct and thank you for noticing.
        Please see above.

  • Lynda Groom

    When Willey’s husband took himself out he obviously a great deal of her with him. The poor woman is delusional and in need of help. I hope she gets it.