Capital Hill Blue
April 8, 1999
Away from the public eye and the vaunted White House spin machine, President Bill Clinton is a vulgar, vengeful man who believes in "killing" people who try to hurt him, those who know Clinton best say.
White House staffers, Clinton confidants and others describe Clinton as "incredibly profane" and "an angry man who wants to inflict as much pain as possible on his enemies."
Former White House senior staff member George Stephanopoulos in his book, All Too Human, writes about Clinton's mishandling of the Somalia crisis and shows the depth of the President's violent emotions: "'We're not inflicting pain on these fuckers,' Clinton said, softly at first. 'When people kill us, they should be killed in greater numbers.' Then, with his face reddening, his voice rising, and his fist pounding his thigh, he leaned into Tony [Lake], as if it was his fault. 'I believe in killing people who try to hurt you. And I can't believe we're being pushed around by these two-bit pricks.'"
Those who have known Clinton since his days in Arkansas say the quote is "vintage Bill."
"Only an idiot would buy the public persona of Bill Clinton," says Walter Erricson, a retired reporter who covered Clinton in his early political days in Arkansas. "He is an incredibly profane individual. He is now and always has been an angry man who wants to inflict as much pain as possible on his enemies."
White House staff members say Clinton curses like a sailor, has temper tantrums that cause people to back away from him and uses the word "kill" often to describe what he wants to do with his enemies.
"Once, when the House was finishing up its impeachment investigation, the President slammed his fist down on the table and said 'I'd like to kill all of these sons of bitches and just be done with it!' There was a long, painful period of silence until he regained his composure. Then everybody went on like it was never said," says one former White House staffer.
Samuel Wilson, a former political worker in Clinton's second campaign for governor, remembers the candidate encountering a critic at a campaign appearance in a small town. After the critic told Clinton he was nothing but a "two-bit politician" and then walked away, Clinton turned to a campaign aide and said "write down the name of that motherfucker. When I'm back in office, he's a dead man."
"I remember his look. It was cold," Wilson said. "I don't want to think he wanted to kill him literally, but I'm sure some sort of revenge was inflicted later on."
In fact, it was fear of what Attorney General Bill Clinton could do to her business that kept nursing home operator Juanita Broaddrick from reporting Clinton's rape of her 21 years ago in a Little Rock hotel room.
"Her fears were justified," says retired reporter Erricson. "Everybody knew Bill Clinton was a man who got even, any way he could."
Helen Shannon, who worked in the Arkansas Statehouse during Clinton's second term as governor, said the governor would personally order state contracts canceled when he got angry with people.
"The word would come down from the governor's office that somebody was off limits and we would cancel their contracts and put them on a 'don't use' list. It happened a lot," she says.
Shannon, who was dating a member of Clinton's staff, says Clinton would order audits of contracts and tell the the Arkansas State Police to "turn up the heat" on somebody he didn't like.
"When Bill Clinton ran Arkansas, it was a police state," she says.
White House staff members tell similar stories. At one meeting, Clinton told staff members he wanted everyone in the Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's office audited by the IRS.
"Several people in the meeting told the President he shouldn't do that," the staff member remember. "He slammed his fist down on the table and said: 'I can do any Goddamned thing I want. I'm President of the United States. I take care of my friends and I fuck with my enemies. That's the way it is. Anybody who doesn't like it can take a hike."
The White House did not return calls for comment.