Clinton Library Releases 3,500 Withheld Documents

The Clinton Library published the first portion of a trove of withheld documents, with new revelations about the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Posted at 9:13 PM, Feb 28, 2014

After 13 years, a stash of documents hidden in Bill Clinton's presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas has finally been made available to the public.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library released around 3,500 pages of documents from Bill Clinton's time in the White House. The papers are part of a larger 33,000 store of documents which will be processed and released over the next few weeks.

The White House makes presidential documents public 12 years after a president leaves office, thanks to a 1974 law. The National Archives announced they would publish these documents after Politico began pressuring the library to release them.

And while it's hard to imagine this new release of documents containing any new bombshells about President Clinton, their release has been heavily scrutinized thanks to his wife Hillary Clinton.

Speculation that Hillary might run for president in 2016 has fueled a fresh wave of examination about the former First Lady. Earlier this month The Washington Free Beaconpublished a slew of documents from Hillary Clinton's friend Dr. Diane Blair, sparking renewed interest in her past.

And the prospect of peeking behind the scenes of Hillary's time as FLOTUS, particularly her role in an attempted health care reform program, had many political commentators hoping for a juicy story. (Via C-SPAN)

"Who knows what's in there? We may find out that the Hillarycare she proposed was far worse than the Obamacare we got, and that's going to pin her to the wall." (Via Fox News)

And while the documents released Friday don't appear to be too scandalous, there's a few little interesting tidbits to digest. And quite a few of them are about healthcare.

For example, in 1993 Hillary apparently wasn't a fan of the individual mandate. She told a group of House and Senate Democrats the Republican-sponsored mandate was "politically and substantively a much harder sell than the one we've got." Seventeen years later, that mandate would become a key part of Obamacare.

And then there's this prescient comment from someone identified as Todd, who cautioned President Clinton in 1994 that a broad, unqualified statement about healthcare reform could lead to the President "getting skewered for over-promising here on something we know full well we won't deliver." Wise words, Todd.

The released documents also shed some light on how the Clinton administration managed Hillary's image — in particular, how to keep the First Lady relatable in the public spotlight.

As Time puts it, "Well before her first political campaign as the actual candidate, Clinton and the people around her were grappling with how to make her more appealing in the eyes of the public. ... By the time Clinton was gearing up for her Senate run, aides were advising her to come across as less packaged."

And as The Daily Beast's Ben Jacobs notes on Twitter, apparently the First Lady was at some point considered for a cameo on Home Improvement. Not sure how that would have worked, but it probably would have been fun to see.

The National Archives plans to publish more documents later in May, but there's still no concrete release date. The agency says it's still reviewing many of the Clinton papers, a process it plans to complete by March 26.