The Clinton Body Count

Rumors claim the ex-president is responsible for more than a dozen murders

60th Annual GRAMMY Awards - MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Fleetwood Mac - Inside
Getty Images for NARAS / Getty Images

Rumors dating to the mid-1990s claim that dozens of people connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton have died under mysterious circumstances, provoking outlandish conspiracy theories about the former president's supposed involvement in their deaths. The idea of the "Clinton Body Count," which began during Bill's presidency, reared its head again during Hillary Clinton's 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns.

A typical chain email promoting the conspiracy theory lists over two dozen individuals who supposedly "[had] dirt on the Clintons," including former White House counselor Vince Foster, businessman James McDougal, and Susan Coleman, a law school student who allegedly had an affair with Bill Clinton. The email describes the circumstances of each person's death and advises the reader to "Pass this on. Let the public become aware of what happens to anyone who might damage the Clinton machine!"

Absurd Assumptions

The widely-circulated "Clinton Body Count" text insinuates that several dozen "friends" of the Clintons, some of whom conceivably possessed incriminating information about the former First Couple, died under "mysterious" circumstances—i.e., were secretly done away with.

In more ways than one, it's reminiscent of a similarly paranoid conspiracy theory floated during the Bush-hating 2000s, namely the notion that forces within the Bush administration secretly orchestrated the 9/11 terror attacks.

Both theories rest on absurd assumptions:

1. That a U.S. president could secretly order the murders of dozens (or, in Bush's case on 9/11, thousands) of American citizens without being found out, ratted on, prosecuted, impeached, or even so much as accused of such crimes by members of Congress, including staunch political opponents.

2. That a U.S. president could flawlessly carry out such crimes while demonstrating complete and utter fallibility (if not gross ineptitude) in the face of other, more mundane challenges (e.g., Clinton's inability to squelch accusations of sexual improprieties and avoid impeachment).

Why is it, we must also ask, that special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars attempting to dig up dirt of any kind on the Clintons, never handed down a single indictment pertaining to these alleged murders?

The answer is plain—because the accusations have no merit.

Origin of the 'Clinton Body Count'

According to an article by Philip Weiss on February 23, 1997, issue of The New York Times Magazine, the earliest version of the "Clinton Body Count" was authored by Indianapolis attorney Linda Thompson, founder of the right-wing group American Justice Federation. The list originally contained the names of 26 alleged victims, though it has grown, and shrunk, and grown again since then, with some variants boasting over 100 names.

The Truth About the 'Mysterious' Deaths

Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, experts and investigators have looked into these "mysterious" deaths—and they haven't found any evidence of foul play.

The true circumstances surrounding the deaths of five Clinton "victims" are given below.

James McDougal — A friend and business partner of the Clintons, McDougal died of a heart attack—not an "apparent" heart attack—while serving time on a fraud conviction. McDougal had a pre-existing heart condition. Prison guards placed him in solitary confinement after he refused to take a urine test and failed to provide him with the medications he kept in his cell, according to a subsequent investigation. No foul play was suspected.

Mary Mohane — "One of the first interns to work at the Clinton White House," according to her family. Not one news source reporting on her murder suggests that Mohane, a lesbian, was poised to claim that she had experienced "sexual harassment in the White House." She died of gunshot wounds along with two other Georgetown, D.C.

Starbucks employees during a botched robbery attempt on July 6, 1997. Per police investigations and a written confession by the killer, Carl Cooper of Washington, D.C., Mahoney was shot while struggling with the perpetrator over the keys to the safe. A witness corroborated that Cooper had been planning to rob the Starbucks for at least a month before the crime occurred.

Vince Foster — A lifelong friend of the Clintons, White House aide Vince Foster killed himself with a handgun on July 20, 1993. He had been suffering from depression. No fewer than five official investigations were conducted into the circumstances of his death, and not one found evidence of foul play. In 1997, special prosecutor Kenneth Starr's own report on the Vince Foster case was unsealed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. "The available evidence points clearly to suicide as the manner of death," the report stated.

Ron Brown — Brown, who served as Commerce Secretary under President Clinton, died in a plane crash on April 3, 1996. Conspiracy theorists have alleged that X-rays of Brown's head showed "possible bullet fragments" in the vicinity of what some described as a "gunshot wound." A re-examination reviewed by a panel of military pathologists found "no bullet, no bone fragments, no metal fragments and, even more telling, no exit wound," according to Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.

C. Victor Raiser II — This prominent Democratic fundraiser and close friend of Bill Clinton died along with his son and four other people in an airplane crash in Alaska in 1992.

Raiser had no known connection with any Clinton scandal, nor was his death in any way "mysterious." A National Transportation Safety Board investigation determined that the pilot, who survived the crash, had stalled the plane while trying to veer away at the last minute from a dangerous, cloud-covered mountain pass.

Sources

  • “Does Bill Clinton Run Murder Inc.?” Slate Magazine, Slate, 18 Feb. 1999, www.slate.com/id/1002023/.
  • “Fact Check: Clinton Body Bags.” Snopes.com, www.snopes.com/politics/clintons/bodycount.asp.
  • Murphy, Tim, et al. “The Definitive Guide to Every Hillary Clinton Conspiracy Theory...so Far.” Mother Jones, Mother Jones, 24 June 2017, www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/06/hillary-clinton-conspiracy-theories.
  • Weiss, Philip. “Clinton Crazy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Feb. 1997, www.nytimes.com/1997/02/23/magazine/clinton-crazy.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm.