At another point in the CNN event, she took a position that appears to put her opposite the Pentagon brass and Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of her earliest Democratic 2016 supporters: She issued her first public endorsement of a controversial plan to overhaul military sexual assault policy by removing commanders from the key decision points in the prosecution of cases.
Clinton said she supported New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in her yearlong battle to force this change through legislation — if the Pentagon can’t clean up its act soon.
“She was a fierce advocate for it,” Clinton said of Gillibrand. “It was not successful this time around. Another approach was taken. But I think everybody on both sides of the aisle knows, if there is not evidence that this other approach is working, then we should go back to Kirsten’s proposal.”
“Take it out of the chain of command?” Amanpour asked to follow-up.
“Take it out, that’s right,” Clinton replied.
Hillary Clinton revealed a surprising position Tuesday: She actually supported Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill to take the handling of sexual assaults in the military outside the chain of command. The bill failed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate in March. Instead, a version sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, which tightens the Pentagon’s prosecution of such cases, passed into law.
From the interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour:
MS. AMANPOUR: So, do you believe — hard choice — would you take this out of the chain of command?
MS. CLINTON: Well, I supported my friend Kirsten Gillibrand, and she wanted to take it out of the chain of command.
MS. AMANPOUR: Yes, she did.
MS. CLINTON: And remember it’s not only women, it’s men, who’ve been assaulted as well.
MS. AMANPOUR: That’s what I said, but mostly women.
MS. CLINTON: Mostly women, that’s right.
And she was — she was a fierce advocate for it. It was not successful this time around. Another approach was taken. But I think everybody on both sides of the aisle knows, if there is not evidence that this other approach is working, then we should go back to Kirsten’s proposal.
Clinton’s endorsement was news to Gillibrand, a Democrat who succeeded Clinton in her New York senate seat. Gillibrand and her staff learned about it on television. “Based on Secretary Clinton’s record of standing up for human rights, we were not surprised,” said Glen Caplin, Gillibrand’s communications director.