Bill Clinton Asked His Staffers to Investigate — Him!

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By: E&P Staff

An article by Marc Ambinder in the forthcoming May issue of The Atlantic (not yet available online) explores what he calls one of the ?the juicier subplots of the 2008 presidential campaign? ? the role to be played by former President Bill Clinton will play.

Ambinder reveals that at Clinton?s urging ?researchers at his presidential library and his offices in Harlem embarked on a highly secretive two-year project: investigating their own boss.

?The team conducted a painstaking reexamination of all the well-worn issues from Clinton?s presidency, poring over trial transcripts, internal White House documents, notes, and public and private correspondence, searching for any overlooked information that could be used to give new life to old embarrassments. Perhaps more important, the researchers covered Clinton?s postpresidential history too, with a muckraker?s eye, including the rumors about his private life that inevitably trail him.

?All but a handful of Clinton?s staff and friends were kept in the dark about the vetting process, though two who did know about it confirmed its existence to me. Neither would describe how the results were disseminated or who has access to them now. But the purpose of the exercise is clear enough: Bill Clinton wants to know what everybody else could know about Bill Clinton. Knowing that, we can safely conclude this, too: Bill Clinton hopes to play a major role in his wife?s campaign.?

Ambinder doesn?t know exactly what the researchers found and speculates that Hillary faces the tough choice of embracing the ?two-for-one pitch? or the ?seen but not heard? idea. He reveals: ?No one close to the Clintons has any doubt that Bill, for a host of reasons, will comply with his wife?s wishes, whatever they may be.?

But he concludes: ?Perhaps more telling than Bill Clinton?s self- investigation is a subsidiary detail: He also asked his staffers to compile an exhaustive list of his achievements, which must be about as close to the creation of a r?sum? as ex-presidents get, and betrays a longing to return to the presidential campaign trail that Al Gore overcautiously denied him.?

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