Excerpt From Kathleen Willey's Interview with 60 Minutes
March 16, 1998
On Nov. 29, 1993, Kathleen Willey arrived at the White House to meet with President Clinton and ask for a full-time job somewhere in government.
At the time, her family had fallen upon hard times -- her husband, Edward E. Willey Jr., had recently declared bankruptcy and their marriage was reportedly having difficulties of its own.
Both Edward and Kathleen Willey were prominant Democratic fund-raisers and long-time supporters of the president.
Unbeknownst to the president or Ms. Willey, Edward Willey had committed suicide that afternoon.
The following is an excerpt from Kathleen Willey's interview with CBS's Ed Bradley concerning the events of Nov. 29, 1993:
BRADLEY: But Kathleen Willey's life was about to fall apart. Her husband, a lawyer, was in deep trouble.
He was under investigation for embezzling money from his clients, and the Willey family's finances were in a shambles. Kathleen Willey told her husband she needed to do something about it, and that she was going to see her "good friend," President Clinton.
WILLEY: And I told him that I was going to go to Washington and ask the president for a full-time paying job.
BRADLEY: And -- and you felt comfortable doing that?
WILLEY: Yeah. Absolutely.
BRADLEY: What you are about to hear is what Kathleen Willey says happened behind closed doors that day, between her and the President of the United States, inside the Oval office.
So, let me ask you to take me through it, step by step, what happened when you went into the Oval office?
WILLEY: I went in, and the president was at his desk, and I sat down in the chair across from him, and I obviously looked very distraught.
He asked me what was wrong. I told him I had a really serious problem and that I needed his help. And, he said, "Would you like a cup of coffee?" And I said, "Yes, I would."
So he -- he walked to another -- a door on the other side of the Oval office, which led into a hallway, into his small galley kitchen, and there was a -- a steward in there, I remember.
And the president took a -- a coffee cup down out of the pantry, and -- a Starbucks coffee cup, I remember -- and, he poured me a cup of coffee, poured himself a cup of coffee, and we started walking back down the hall towards the Oval office and he said, "why don't you come in here into my study? We can talk better in here."
And, I stood and leaned -- I was leaning against the door jam. He was in the office.
We were standing facing each other, and I told him what had happened. I -- I didn't give him all the details. I just told him that my husband was in financial difficulty, and that things were at a crisis point, and that my volunteer -- volunteer days were over, that -- that I needed a -- a regular paying job, and could he help me?
BRADLEY: And, did he seem sympathetic? Did he say...
BRADLEY: ... he could help you?
WILLEY: Yeah, well, he did seem sympathetic.
He -- he -- he was listening. I -- I had the feeling that he was somehow distracted when I was talking to him, but -- but he was not really -- really listening, but I know that he did. I know he knows how distraught I was and how upset I was, because I -- I was -- I was very worried. I was worried about my husband, and -- and -- and what as going to happen.
BRADLEY: And what happened next?
WILLEY: Well, he -- he said he would do everything that he could to -- to -- to help, and I turned around and -- out of the -- out of the office, and he followed me to -- I thought he was going to open the door to the -- to the Oval office, and right as we got to the door, he stopped and he gave me a big hug and said that he was very sorry that this was happening to me.
And -- I had -- had no problem with that, because when I saw -- every time I saw him, he would hug me. He use -- just does that, is like that.
And, I remember I had -- still had this coffee cup in my hand, and it was kind of in between us, and I didn't want it to spill on him or me, and -- and it just was this -- it was just very strange. And he -- he took the coffee cup out of my hand and he put it on a bookshelf, and -- and -- he -- this hug lasted a little longer than I thought necessary, but at the same time -- I mean, I was not concerned about it. And then he -- then he -- and then he kissed me on -- on my mouth, and -- and pulled me closer to him. And -- I remember thinking -- I just remember thinking, "what in the world is he doing?" I -- it -- I just thought, "what is he doing?" And, I -- I pushed back away from him, and -- he -- he -- he -- he -- he's a big man.
And he -- he had his arms -- they were tight around me, and he -- he -- he touched me.
BRADLEY: Touched you how?
WILLEY: Well, he -- he -- he touched my breasts with his hand, and, I -- I -- I -- I was -- I -- I was just startled.
I was -- I was just...
BRADLEY: This -- this wasn't an accidental grazing touch?
And -- then he -- whispered -- he -- he -- said in -- in my ears that, "I -- I've wanted to do this ever since I laid eyes on you." And -- I remember -- I remember saying to him, "aren't you afraid that somebody's going to walk in here?" The -- and, he said -- he said, "no. No, I'm -- no, I'm not." And -- and then -- and -- and then he took my hand, and he -- and he put it on him. And, that's when I pushed away from him and -- and decided it was time to get out of there.
BRADLEY: When you say he took your hand...
BRADLEY: ... and put it on him...
BRADLEY: Where on him?
WILLEY: On -- on his genitals.
BRADLEY: Was he a -- aroused?
BRADLEY: He was.
BRADLEY: What were you thinking?
WILLEY: Well, I -- I was -- there was -- I -- there were all kinds of things going through my mind.
I -- I think as -- when I think back on it, it was kind of like I was watching it in slow motion, and -- and thinking surely this is not happening. And, at the same time, I -- I wanted to -- I thought, "well, maybe I ought to just give him a good slap across the face." And then I thought, "well, I don't think you can slap the President of the United States like that." And -- and I just decided it was just time to get out of there.
BRADLEY: Did you say anything to him, or was there anything about your behavior that invited an advance?
WILLEY: I -- I -- I have gone over this so many times, so very many times, because I think that your natural instinct is to wonder, "Did I bring this on? Did I send a -- a -- the wrong signal?" The only signals that I was sending that day, was that I was very upset, very distraught, and I needed to help my husband.
BRADLEY: Did you feel intimidated?
WILLEY: I didn't feel intimidated. I just felt overpowered.
BRADLEY: Did you ever say, "stop. No. Get away from me?"
WILLEY: I just -- I -- I pushed him away. I pushed him away, and -- and I said, "I think I -- I'd better go."
BRADLEY: And what did he say?
WILLEY: He -- he -- he kept looking at his watch, 'cause he told me that he had a meeting, and he said -- he said -- that he could -- he said they could wait. And I said, "Well..." I said, "well, I'm leaving."
BRADLEY: When you walked out of there, what -- what were you thinking?
WILLEY: I just could not believe that that had happened in that office. I -- I just could not believe -- the recklessness of that act.
[At this point, we will skip ahead to a portion of this interview in which Ed Bradley asks Ms. Willey if she has ever felt pressured by the White House...]
BRADLEY: Have you ever been pressured?
BRADLEY: How? Tell me about it.
WILLEY: I felt pressured by Mr. Bennett.
BRADLEY: The president's attorney?
WILLEY: Yes. We -- we were together at some point before our court hearing, and he mentioned that he had just left -- he had just been at the White House, and -- and the -- the president asked for me and told him just -- that he just thought the world of me. And, he said, "now, this -- this was not sexual harassment, was it?" And, I didn't answer him.
And he said, "well -- and it wasn't -- not -- it wasn't -- it -- it wasn't unwelcome, was it?" And I said to him, "it was unwelcome and unexpected."
BRADLEY: Did you feel intimidated by Bennett?
WILLEY: I -- I felt pressured. Especially when he threw in the -- the business about, "well, the president just feel -- thinks the world of you," and it -- it -- I found that a little laughable, though.
WILLEY: Well, because if the president thought the world of me, why did he do what he did?
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