Minutes before the start of President Trump’s first State of the Union address, Hillary Clinton issued a lengthy statement on her Facebook page addressing the report that she shielded an ex-campaign adviser against being fired amid sexual harassment allegations.
The New York Times reported last week that Burns Strider, a faith adviser on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, was accused of sexual harassment. And despite a recommendation that he be fired, Clinton did not do so; instead, Strider received a demotion and pay cut.
“The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t,” Clinton wrote Tuesday evening, referring to her decision to keep Strider on staff.
“In 2007, a woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her,” Clinton continued, confirming the Times’ reporting.
“She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination,” she recounted. “In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.”
The former Democratic presidential nominee went on to explain that she believed Strider “needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong,” and that, “The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.”
But as BuzzFeed News later reported, Strider went on to be accused of similar behavior years after Clinton let him stay on-board. He landed a plum job at a pro-Clinton super PAC where his harassment reportedly continued.
Patti Solis Doyle, who was the campaign manager in 2008, told CNN this week that she was “overruled” when she told Clinton to fire Strider outright.
Clinton’s initial response, which came via a tweet on Friday night saying she called the woman and “to tell her how proud I am of her and to make sure she knows what all women should: we deserve to be heard,” was also blasted by her former campaign manager.
“I was disappointed by that tweet, that response,” Solis Doyle said on CNN. “It was the wrong call. I wish she had said it was the wrong call.”
Clinton seemed to acknowledge this in her longer statement on Tuesday.
“While there were no further complaints against him for the duration of the campaign, several years after working for me he was terminated from another job for inappropriate behavior,” Clinton said addressing the later misconduct. “That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded. Would he have done better—been better—if I had fired him? Would he have gotten that next job? There is no way I can go back 10 years and know the answers. But you can bet I’m asking myself these questions right now.”