The explanations of potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton don't "square up" about a man she represented in a rape case over three decades ago, said talk show host Joe Scarborough.
As a young lawyer in 1975, Clinton defended a 41-year-old man accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. She negotiated a plea deal for the defendant, who was sentenced to one year in jail and four years probation, reported The New York Times.
Clinton, who has voiced advocacy of women's issues, recently defended her role in the case, saying she had no choice but to represent the man accused of rape because the court had appointed her.
"I asked to be relieved of that responsibility, but I was not. And, I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did," Clinton, former secretary of state, told Mumsnet, a UK parenting forum, on June 4, according to the Times. "Once I was appointed, I fulfilled that obligation."
However, a few years after the trial, Clinton offered a different explanation for how she became involved in the case, explaining that she did it as a personal favor.
"The prosecutor called me a few years ago. He said he had a guy who had been accused of rape, and the guy wanted a woman lawyer. Would I do a favor for him?" Clinton told a Washington Free Beacon
reporter in the 1980s.
"These are her own words, lined up next to each other, at the time of the defense and now. Her words now don't square up," Scarborough, a former Republican Florida congressman, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday. "This completely changes the conversation."
Bloomberg columnist Mark Halperin said Clinton's explanations could amount to "slick answers," and explained she would have to be straightforward about her past if she runs for president.
"There are going to be other cases like this. I just don't think it serves her well, if she wants to preserve her political viability as a presidential candidate, to give anything but fully truthful, well-researched well-thought-through answers," Halperin told "Morning Joe" Tuesday.
"The biggest implication of this to me, in terms of presidential politics, is that she's going to have a lot of things from her past scrutinized that have never come up before," Scarborough said. "Some women, some men, have questions about some of the decisions she's made in her life related to gender, in her personal life, professional life, not about her public advocacy."
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