The former secretary of state visited GW with her daughter, activist Chelsea Clinton, as part of the Presidential Distinguished Event Series.
By Ruth Steinhardt
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “impeachment is the appropriate remedy” for President Donald Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky seeking an investigation into the family of presidential candidate Joe Biden.
“When you have a president calling on foreign adversaries for assistance in his political campaigns, which he did in 2016 and which he is doing again, that goes right to the heart of our sovereignty of a nation, to our national security, in a way that is almost unimaginable,” Ms. Clinton said.
Ms. Clinton visited the George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium Friday evening with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, to discuss their co-authored “The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience.” The Clintons’ visit, co-hosted by Politics and Prose, was the second in the GW Presidential Distinguished Event Series, which last year hosted historian Ron Chernow.
In opening remarks, GW President Thomas LeBlanc said that the university "is fortunate to have benefitted from the Clinton family's inspiring contributions to GW's educational and research mission, especially through the Rodham Institute. We remain grateful for this partnership and for the impact the Rodham Institute has had on communities near and far."
Much of the conversation before the sold-out crowd—many of whom lined up hours early for premium seats—was affectionate and familiar, centered on the Clintons’ relationships with each other and with the women about whom they wrote. The duo chose a selection of inspiring women from throughout history and around the world, ranging from civil rights activist Claudette Colvin to “Sesame Street” creator Joan Ganz Cooney and including groups like the largely-female workforce of vaccinators.
It was important to both mother and daughter to tell women’s stories without idealizing them, Ms. Clinton said.
“We wanted them to be seen as whole people,” she said. “They’re not perfect, they’re not up on a mountain somewhere. They worked hard, and they overcame obstacles…and it wasn’t easy.”
The Clintons said collaborating had taught them the difference their generations made in their conceptualization of female heroes. Most of the women who inspired Ms. Clinton as a child were distant figures from history books or the pages of LIFE magazine, or fictional ones like girl detective Nancy Drew.
“The only women she knew who worked outside home were schoolteachers and public librarians,” Chelsea Clinton said of her mother. In contrast, she said, her own childhood in the 1980s and ’90s was full of adult women who were doctors, lawyers, artists and activists.
The generational difference revealed itself in other ways, too. Chelsea Clinton revealed that her mother still writes and edits her books by hand—driving her more tech-savvy daughter a little crazy. “I thought surely she would have to understand why track changes are important,” the younger Ms. Clinton said. “She does know how to use a computer.”
“In my defense, you know who else writes his books longhand? Barack Obama,” Ms. Clinton retorted.
Moderator Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Politics and Prose and a former speechwriter for Ms. Clinton, allowed a final question to address “the 800-pound gorilla in the room”: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Ms. Clinton said she supported the investigation, and that she was heartened to see public support for impeachment.
“The issue that started with his call to the Ukrainian president has broken through in a way that many of his other actions have not, in terms of the threat they pose to our democracy and our constitution,” she said.
She herself was on the impeachment staff investigating Richard Nixon, which she called “a solemn and serious deliberative effort.
“I am in favor of what the House is doing—gathering the evidence and making the case—because this president has to be held to account, because of his unconstitutional abuse of power, his contempt of Congress and his obstruction of justice,” Ms. Clinton said. The standing ovation that followed lasted about half a minute.