Past Scandals Threaten Hillary Clinton’s Campaign

Questions about Hillary Clinton’s past involvement in her husband’s efforts to fend off accusations of sexual misconduct have arisen in the midst of her presidential campaign, threatening to derail it. The scandals of the 1990s and Mrs. Clinton’s role in them have taken on a life of their own, creating an unexpected headache for a campaign said to focus on inspiring female voters. Now, two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, discussions about past Clinton scandals have moved from conservative critics to broader public consciousness.

The issue emerged last month when Mrs. Clinton accused Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump of having a “penchant for sexism.” Mr. Trump then issued a warning to Mrs. Clinton on Twitter, saying, “Be careful Hillary as you play the war on women or women being degraded card.”

Trump then accused her of hypocrisy, given her husband’s treatment of women. Mr. Trump said in an interview with Fox News last week, “She’s not a victim. She was an enabler.” He continued, “Some of these women have been destroyed, and Hillary worked with” her husband.

In the 1990s, the Clintons and their allies worked furiously to discredit women who said they had had sexual encounters with or been sexually assaulted by former President Bill Clinton. Over the years, the Clinton effort to cast doubt on the women included using words like “floozy,” “bimbo” and “stalker,” and raising questions about their motives. A close aide to the Clintons, Betsey Wright, famously called the claims of affairs and sexual assault against Mr. Clinton in his 1992 campaign the “bimbo eruptions.”

Several news organizations have published guides to the Clinton scandals to explain the allegations to a new generation of readers. One of the first women to come forward during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign was Connie Hamzy in 1991. Gennifer Flowers later surfaced, claiming that she had a long affair with Mr. Clinton.

Paula Jones accused Mr. Clinton of exposing himself while she was an Arkansas state employee, and Juanita Broaddrick, an Arkansas nursing home executive, alleged that Mr. Clinton sexually assaulted her in 1978 when he was attorney general of Arkansas. Mr. Clinton eventually paid Ms. Jones $850,000 to settle her sexual harassment case while maintaining his innocence. Through his lawyer, he has denied assaulting Ms. Broaddrick.