Hillary Clinton — the former first lady of the US and the presidential candidate who ran against the incumbent President Donald Trump — responded on Saturday to accusations of sexual harassment made against a former adviser to her 2008 candidacy campaign, saying she “was dismayed when it occurred”.
Clinton focused on praising the accuser for stepping up at the time, saying she felt “proud” of her but chose not to address the assertion that she ignored recommendations to fire Burns Strider — the accused.
“A story appeared today about something that happened in 2008. I was dismayed when it occurred, but was heartened the young woman came forward, was heard, and had her concerns taken seriously and addressed,” she had tweeted.
“I called her today to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard,” she added in a second tweet.
In its report a day prior, the New York Times claimed that “a senior adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, who was accused of repeatedly sexually harassing a young subordinate, was kept on the campaign at Mrs. Clinton’s request”, citing people familiar with the matter.
The publication stressed that the story was revealed following “interviews with eight former campaign officials and associates of Mrs. Clinton’s”.
The accuser, now aged 30, had told a Clinton campaign employee that Strider “had rubbed her shoulders inappropriately, kissed her on the forehead and sent her a string of suggestive emails”.
Strider, married at the time, had used to work for Clinton as her faith adviser and, during the campaign, sent her religious readings every day.
At the time when the issue was raised, it was taken to the campaign’s national operations director Jess O’Connell, who now serves as the CEO of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
O’Connell had, therefore, recommended to Patti Solis Doyle — the campaign manager — that Strider be let go and voiced her concern for the accuser over partial behaviour.
In the investigation, “the campaign reviewed [the complaint] in accordance with these policies, and appropriate action was taken”, Clinton’s spokesperson said.
The NYT noted that Strider’s remuneration — for “several weeks” — was deducted and he was advised to see a professional medical counsellor, which he never did. The woman, who initially brought up the issue within the campaign, however, was adjusted to a new job instead.
Strider was eventually let go months later for problems pertaining to the workplace, the publication said citing people close to the matter.
Back in October last year, disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of decades-long inappropriate behaviour, including sexual harassment, misconduct, and rape, which led to a wave of accusations against powerful men in various industries and resulted in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
Weinstein was long a major donor to Democratic candidates and causes as well as a longtime ally and donor to the Clinton family. Following the allegations against him, Clinton had said she was “shocked and appalled by the revelations”.