Breitbart News on Wednesday published what it billed as an exclusive interview with a former Arkansas TV reporter who alleged that former President Bill Clinton sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions in 1980.
The conservative news site, known for publishing sensationalist, race-baiting stories, as well as its embrace of white nationalist views, published Leslie Millwee’s account the morning before the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. Breitbart News’ executive chairman, Steve Bannon, took leave from that position in August to serve as Trump’s campaign CEO.
Trump appeared with other women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct before the second debate earlier in October. He held a brief press availability with three of the accusers in St. Louis before taking the stage as those accusers sat in the debate audience. An anonymous senior Trump advisor said that Millwee is expected to attend the final debate Wednesday night, according to the Washington Post’s Robert Costa:
Leslie Millwee, the latest accuser of former president Bill Clinton, will be at the debate tonight, per a Trump senior adviser
— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 19, 2016
Millwee opened a video interview with Breitbart by introducing herself as “a wife, a mother, I work for a nonprofit for cancer awareness, and I was sexually assaulted by Bill Clinton.” She went on to describe her employment as a television reporter in Fort Smith and Fayetteville, Arkansas, at now-defunct local channel KLMN. Millwee, who reported under the name Leslie Derrick, explained that Clinton was governor at the time and that she interviewed him about social events and the housing of Cuban refugees at Fort Chaffee in 1980.
Millwee said that she first noticed Clinton’s behavior towards her at the station, where she said he would single her out for attention and greet her with comments like “Hey, pretty girl, how are you today.” Later, however, she said that Clinton started making “inappropriate gestures” and followed her into the station’s small editing room.
“I was sitting in a chair. He came up behind me and started rubbing my shoulders and running his hands down toward my breasts, and I was just stunned,” Millwee said. “I froze. I asked him to stop; he laughed. That happened on three occasions, and each time it escalated where the aggressive nature of his touch and what he was doing behind me escalated.”
During the second alleged incident, which Millwee described as happening approximately a week later, Millwee said that Clinton made a “beeline” for her.
“I excused myself, went to the editing room, and he came in behind me, started hunching me to the point that he had an orgasm,” Millwee said. “I’m just sitting there very stiffly, just waiting for him to leave me alone, and I’m asking him the whole time, please do not do this, do not touch me, do not hunch me, I do not want this.”
Millwee said that when Clinton was finished, he left the room. She estimated that the alleged incident overall took place over the course of three to five minutes, and said that she repeatedly asked Clinton to stop.
During the third alleged incident, Millwee said, Clinton did “basically the same thing he did on the second time.” She said that she waited a few minutes before leaving the editing room and going to the restroom, where she encountered another station employee who asked her what was wrong. Millwee said that she was crying and “overwhelmed,” but told the other woman that she didn’t want to talk about it. She said that, while Clinton’s interest in her seemed to be apparent to other reporters at the station, she didn’t think that they were aware of his actions.
According to Millwee, Clinton said things like “We’re going to be together” to her, which she took to mean that he was going to seek her out. Millwee said that he later knocked on her apartment door “one night at 10:30,” and didn’t leave for some time.
Before the first alleged incident, Millwee said that Clinton cut his tie in half and signed it, giving Millwee the signed piece and telling her that he would be president one day. Millwee also said that Clinton once wrote his name in her reporter’s notebook above her own name. When Millwee asked him whether he was giving her an autograph, she said that he replied: “No, I just wanted to show you how good Clinton looks on top of Leslie.”
Asked why she was coming forward now, Millwee said that she is “comfortable” now but had previously decided against telling her story when Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light.
“I had very small children at the time,” she said. “It was a very conservative situation. I didn’t want to do anything to bring harm to my career and my family.”
Millwee denied that she was coming forward expressly to influence the result of the presidential election.
According to the report, Breitbart confirmed with the station’s news editor at the time, Karen Pharis, that Millwee worked for KLMN and that she edited her footage in the small editing room. Pharis told Breitbart that Millwee had not told her about the alleged incidents until about a year ago, but that she had no reason to doubt Millwee’s story. Millwee also said that she told three friends about the alleged incidents in the late 1990s, two of whom are quoted in the Breitbart report vouching for Millwee’s story and credibility.
Breitbart acknowledged that it encountered some issues in verifying Millwee’s account, including the interviews with Clinton that Millwee mentioned, which Breitbart “was unable to track down.”
The report also noted that Millwee recounted her story in a 2011 book, titled “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!”, in which she mentioned none of the alleged incidents she recounted to Breitbart. Milwee did write that Clinton once touched her shoulder in the editing room, making her uncomfortable, but also that she’d brought her grandmother to a fair with the promise of introducing her to the governor.
No other news outlets appear to have verified Millwee’s account or spoken with Millwee since Breitbart published its story.
Her account surfaces as Trump faces a barrage of sexual assault allegations from at least eleven women spanning four decades. After the release of a leaked video from 2005 in which he bragged about kissing and grabbing women “by the pussy,” Trump denied ever acting on his comments during the second presidential debate. Multiple women with stories of being groped and kissed by Trump cited that denial as the motivation behind them coming forward.
Breitbart has run posts as far back as 2009 praising Trump for his long-running campaign demanding that President Barack Obama release his long form birth certificate, his work on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and his attacks on Fox host Megyn Kelly. Four anonymous staffers at the site told Buzzfeed earlier this year that they believed Trump was paying for Breitbart’s prominent and favorable coverage of his campaign. At the time, Bannon responded by calling the claims a “lie.”
Breitbart also notably waffled on its support of Michelle Fields, a reporter for the site who accused Trump’s then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of grabbing her after a Florida press conference. Fields and another reporter, Ben Shapiro, later resigned from Breitbart. Shapiro was unsparing in his criticism for Bannon, who he said was a “bully” in bed with Trump, as well as for the site, which he slammed as “Trump’s personal Pravda.”
In August, Breitbart ran a story particularly representative of its coverage of Trump’s candidacy in which it posted a photo purporting to show attendance numbers at a rally for the GOP nominee. The photo, attached to an article headlined “Trump’s Jacksonville Rally Draws 15,000,” was actually of a crowd during a celebratory parade for the Cleveland Cavaliers.