Last week, the New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton didn’t fire a campaign staffer accused of sexual harassment in 2008, and instead reassigned him. On Tuesday, 15 minutes before President Donald Trump‘s first State of the Union address, Clinton addressed the story and critics of her decision, writing that if she had to do it again, “I wouldn’t.”
In her own address, posted to her Facebook page, Clinton wrote that she had mulled over her decision in the days following the Times piece, which reported that staffer Burns Strider was reported by a 30-year-old female staffer for rubbing her shoulders, kissing her on the forehead, and writing several suggestive emails. Instead of firing Strider, as her campaign manager urged, Clinton ordered him to undergo counseling, was docked several weeks of pay, and him and the woman were transferred to different roles within the campaign.
Clinton said that in dealing with this reported sexual harassment, she felt he needed to be punished, but that, as a believer of second chances, she didn’t want to take away his livelihood, which she wrote is “perhaps the most serious thing an employer can do.”
“He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. 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,” Clinton wrote.
“When faced with a situation like this, if I think it’s possible to avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved, I am inclined in that direction. I do not put this forward as a virtue or a vice—just as a fact about how I view these matters,” she continued.
After the Times story was published, Clinton said she reached out to the former female staffer to see how she was doing, and to help Clinton “reflect on my decision and its consequences” herself. The staffer, who approved of Clinton’s detailing their conversation, had told Clinton that she was glad her accusations were taken seriously, and that she excelled in her new role in the campaign.
Despite the Times reporting on Clinton’s decision to not fire Strider on Jan. 26, Clinton didn’t address the article and concerns until five days later, during which she says she thought deeply about her decisions and the impact it had on her staffer that came forward with the complaint. However, the timing of her full disclosure on the topic seemed oddly planned or calculated, as it came not even an hour before Trump’s first State of the Union address.”
Ultimately, Clinton wrote that at the time she felt that Stride’s punishment fit the offense, and reflected on how weak punishments such as these may feel in retrospect, calling into perspective the Times‘ suspension and reinstating of reporter Glenn Thrush, who had been accused of sexual misconduct prior to his time at the publication, and has since been reassigned to a different reporting beat.
“No woman should have to endure harassment or assault—at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views,” Clinton wrote. “In other words, everyone’s now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let’s do our best to make the most of it.”
While Clinton announced her believe in second chances, she noted Strider had again been accused of similar behavior in a new job after leaving the campaign. Strider was fired from Correct the Record after several months of workplace issues, including allegations that he harassed a young female aide, according to three people close to management.
Read Clinton’s entire Facebook post below:
The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I’ve tried to do so here at home, around the…Posted by Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, January 30, 2018