Hillary Clinton Says Defending Alleged Rapist Was Her ‘Professional Duty’

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Last month, the Washington Free Beacon posted newly unearthed audio of Hillary Clinton discussing, somewhat flippantly, her 1975 defense of an Arkansas man who was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl. Clinton questioned the forensic evidence and the girl's emotional state, and her client was sentenced to only one year in jail and four years probation in a plea deal. Critics pointed to the case as evidence that Clinton isn't as committed to women's issues as she claims, and now she's responded. "I asked to be relieved of that responsibility but I was not and I had a professional duty to represent my client to the best of my ability, which I did," Clinton told the British parenting site Mumsnet this weekend. "When you're a lawyer you often don't have the choice as to who you will represent and, by the very nature of criminal law, there will be those you represent that you don't approve of but, at least in our system, you have an obligation, and once I was appointed I fulfilled that obligation."

Now Free Beacon, Breitbart, and other conservatives sites claim that Clinton has changed her story. In the recorded interview, which was conducted in the mid-'80s, Clinton claimed the local prosecutor, Mahlon Gibson, asked her to take the case as a favor. Recently, Gibson told CNN that Clinton was appointed by a judge, and in Living History she says that after being assigned the case, Gibson "gently reminded me that I couldn't very well refuse the judge's request."

In all three accounts, Clinton says she's uncomfortable with the case and tries to get out of it. While it's possible that Hillary has been deliberately tweaking the story over the years to make it less damaging, it seems more likely that she's misremembering a minor detail about a case she took nearly 40 years ago.