Did Dick Morris fabricate new Clinton-Reno-Waco story?


Dick Morris, who has made a career out of dishonestly trashing the Clintons, suddenly and conveniently claimed on Monday night's Hannity that then-Attorney General Janet Reno threatened President Clinton in early 1997 by saying that if he didn't re-appoint her as attorney general, she was "going to tell the truth about Waco." After host Sean Hannity said, "I don't remember you telling this story before," Morris replied, "No, it's never been said before." Morris went on to say: "I know that he told me -- Clinton told me -- that I couldn't not appoint Reno because she would have turned on me over Waco. That's the phrase he used."

Predictably, the right-wing blogs immediately highlighted Morris' comments.

However, when Morris wrote about Clinton, Reno, and Waco in his 2004 book, Because He Could, he told a much different story. In fact, he indicated that he had no idea why Clinton reappointed Reno and merely speculated that it "may well have been" that Reno was "demanding reappointment as her price for taking the fall for Waco."

Here's what he wrote [emphasis added]:

Reno's loyalty in assuming the blame for Waco in 2000, years after the event, might have its origin in an interesting conversation she had with Clinton in the first few weeks of his second term. As I've noted elsewhere, Clinton told me that he despised Reno; he once told us that her appointment was the "worst mistake" he had ever made. As he shaped his second-term cabinet, he told me he was going to fire her. He sent her every signal of this intention, reappointing or replacing every one of his cabinet members but her. Clinton was obviously hoping that she would resign, to make it easier to get rid of her. But he couldn't get her to quit. So he scheduled a face-to-face meeting with her, at which, he told me, he planned to fire her.

Instead, he decided to let her stay.

Dumbfounded, I asked him why. "I told her," Clinton said, "that no attorney general had ever served for eight years, and that I thought it was not a good idea for anyone to do so. But she was desperate to keep the job. She says she'll quit [as attorney general] after a year -- but she begged me to reappoint her first, so it won't look like I was firing her because of Waco."

I thought it odd that Reno and Clinton should still be talking about Waco, almost four years after the raid. But the very mention of the issue suggests that another dynamic might have been at play here: Reno may well have been demanding reappointment as her price for taking the fall for Waco-- shouldering the responsibility that should have been his. [pp. 56-57]

You might think that if Morris had direct knowledge of such a specific quote -- "she would have turned on me over Waco" -- he would have included it in Because He Could or mentioned it in any one of the countless smear columns and books he's written since. Or you might just think Morris is lying. (It obviously seems highly unlikely that Clinton told Morris this story anytime after 2004.)

This isn't the first time Morris has contradicted what he has previously written. In 2008, on Hannity & Colmes, Morris stated that Hillary Clinton had worked as a "law student defending the Black Panther Party, and then she worked in a communist law firm." Co-host Alan Colmes then asked Morris, "Well, does it make Hillary a communist?" After Morris again stated that Clinton "was a supporter of the Black Panthers," Colmes interjected, "Wait a second. Does that make her a communist?" Morris replied: "No, at that time, at that point in her life, she may well have been."

But Morris had written in his book, Rewriting History, that "Hillary was no Communist, nor should her work in the ... firm imply that she was."

(Note Morris' use of the "may well have been" construction again.)

In fact, when Rewriting History came out, Media Matters Senior Fellow Jamison Foser pointed out several instances in the book where Morris had contradicted himself, as well as numerous other factually inaccurate claims.

And of course, Dick Morris has advanced countless other falsehoods and smears in his attacks on the Clintons over the years.

It would appear that at best this latest claim will also go down as yet another baseless attack on the Clintons, and at worst, as a flat-out fabrication on Morris' part.

One final thought: Dick Morris has absolutely no business discussing Waco or Oklahoma City or anything to do with anti-government violence after making these comments last year: "Those crazies in Montana who say, 'we're going to kill ATF agents because the UN's going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case."

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