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Hillary Clinton on Report She Protected Staffer Accused of Misconduct: ‘If I Had to Do It Again, I Wouldn’t’

Clinton addresses New York Times report that she refused to fire a 2008 presidential campaign adviser following sexual misconduct allegations

Hillary Clinton issued a lengthy follow-up statement on Tuesday regarding her decision not to fire a 2008 campaign staffer accused of sexual misconduct.

“If I had it to do again, I wouldn’t,” Clinton said in a lengthy Facebook post on Tuesday, explaining her reasoning for keeping the adviser on with her campaign and why she would make a different decision today.

The New York Times reported last week that in 2008, Burns Strider, the Clinton campaign’s “Faith Advisor,” was accused of sending suggestive emails to a 30-year-old female staffer, and also of touching her inappropriately in public.

“Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager at the time recommended that she fire the adviser, Burns Strider. But Mrs. Clinton did not. Instead, Mr. Strider was docked several weeks of pay and ordered to undergo counseling, and the young woman was moved to a new job,” the report read.

Clinton first responded to the report on Twitter, writing that she was “dismayed when it occurred” but the accusation was taken seriously. She did not address the Times’ assertion that she went against advice telling her to fire Strider.

“I didn’t think firing him was the best solution to the problem,” Clinton later explained Tuesday. “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.”

The former presidential candidate explained that her priorities as an employer are both to support women and to “avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved” when problems arise.

Admitting that a “seismic shift” has taken place in the last year in the way society responds to sexual harassment accusations, Clinton wrote that she believed at the time of the accusation that she had taken the right course of action. “At the time, I believed the punishment I imposed was severe and fit the offense,” she wrote.

Clinton also said she has been in touch with the woman in the days since the New York Times story broke (including allowing her to read the new statement before it was shared to Facebook), and the woman told her she felt “supported” by the campaign in 2008 and “all these years later, those feelings haven’t changed.”

“I was inspired by my conversation with this young woman to express my own thinking on the matter,” she wrote. “You may question why it’s taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I’ve been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation.”

Clinton also took aim at the Times itself, calling out the paper for its decision to reinstate reporter Glenn Thrush following a brief suspension after similar misconduct allegations were made against him late last year.

“A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today,” Clinton wrote. “The norms around sexual harassment will likely have continued to change as swiftly and significantly in the years to come as they have over the years until now.”