JFK: A virgin and a White House affair

President John F. Kennedy (left), the 19-year-old college sophomore Mimi Alford (right) who lost her virginity to the president on the White House bed of Jackie Kennedy (bottom)

Illicit sexual activity did not arrive at the White House in Washington when Donald Trump became president.

He’s just the latest adulterer to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Bill Clinton’s infidelities and sexual escapades are well-documented, including the oral sex that left a splatter of his semen on 19-year-old Monica Lewinsky’s dress.

He wasn’t the first president to bed a teenage intern in the White House.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy found a teenaged Wheaton College student he met so infatuating he arranged her to get an unasked-for internship at the White House during his presidency and took her virginity on the bed used by first lady Jackie.

Mimi Beardsley Alford detailed how Kennedy also pushed her to perform oral sex on a White House aide so he could watch and then suggested she do the same for younger brother Ted Kennedy because “he needed cheering up.”

Alford said she did go down on presidential aide Dave Powers as he watched but refused to do the same on Ted.

Kennedy moved fast on Alford.  Just a few days after she arrived at the White House as a 19-year-old intern, he invited the beautiful girl for a swim and then took her to the first lady’s bedroom.

“I wouldn’t describe what happened that night as making love, but I wouldn’t call it nonconsensual either,” she later wrote in her book: “Once Upon a Secret: My affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath.”

Their 18-month relationship ended when Kennedy died n 1963

“I’m not going to say he loved me, but I think he did like me a lot,” she recalls.

Revealing the relationship did not bring hasty denials but confirmations from others.

Robert Dallek’s acclaimed Kennedy Biography “An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, describes “a tall, slender, beautiful nineteen-year-old college sophomore” who was often with him

Barbara Gamarekian, former press side to Kenndey, says Alford “has a sort of a special relationship with the president…the sort of thing that legitimate newspaper people don’t write about and don’t even make any implications about.:

Alford kept quiet about her relationship with Kennedy for 40 years but went public after reporters tracked her down in 2003. Dallek says Alford’s admissions about her affair with is “entirely credible” and calls the incident with Powers “disgusting” but believable.

He said he wrote about Alford in his book as a reference to the changing social mores of the country.  When Kennedy was president, reporters in Washington knew about his adultery and other sexual antics but never wrote about it.

Kennedy’s libido may have been unreported at the time, but it was the topic of much discussion at parties in Washington during his presidency.

His affair with Marilyn Monroe is now well known.  Lesser known was his on-again-off-again affair with an artist, Mary Pinchot Meyer, who later died from a gunshot attack in Georgetown in a crime that remains unsolved.

Kennedy also had the hots for Meyer’s sister, Antoinette “Tony” Meyer, then married to Newsweek Washington reporter Ben Bradlee, who would later become editor of the Washington Post.

On May 29, 1963, Kennedy had about two dozen guests aboard the presidential Yacht Sequoia for his 46th birthday and spent most of the evening “pursuing” Tony Bradlee.  The guests included actors David Niven and Peter Lawford, married to Kennedy’s sister Pat.

Tony Bradlee remembered that evening all too well.

“I was running and laughing as he chased me. He caught up with me in the ladies’ room and made a pass,” Tony Bradlee later recounted. “It was a pretty strenuous attack, not as if he pushed me down, but his hands wandered. I said, ‘That’s it, so long.’ I was running like mad.”

“I guess I was pretty surprised, but I was kind of flattered, and appalled, too.”

Appalling, perhaps, but not surprising.

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Trump: A ‘fringe’ member of president’s club

From left, President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former President Jimmy Carter listen as former President George W. Bush speaks during a State Funeral at the National Cathedral, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Washington, for former President George H.W. Bush.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

The nation’s most exclusive fraternity — the presidents club — assembled Wednesday to mourn George H.W. Bush, putting on public display its uneasy relationship with the current occupant of the Oval Office. The uncomfortable reunion brought President Donald Trump together in the same pew with past White House residents who have given him decidedly critical reviews.

The late Bush was the de facto chair of the modern incarnation of the president’s club, transcending contentious campaigns and party lines to bring together fractious personalities who share that rarified experience. But the staid group of Oval Office occupants has been disturbed since Donald Trump’s election. And since his swearing-in, Trump has spurned most contact with his predecessors — and they have snubbed him in return.

The Bushes had made it known to the White House months ago that, despite differences in policy and temperament, the late president wanted Trump to attend the national service. The ceremony’s tributes at times stood as an unspoken counterpoint to Trump’s leadership, as historian Jon Meacham eulogized Bush by recounting his life’s credo: “Tell the truth, don’t blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course.” George W. Bush added of his father: “He could tease and needle, but not out of malice.”

Ahead of Wednesday’s state funeral for the late president, former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and their spouses chatted easily among themselves from their seats in the front row at Washington’s National Cathedral. The ex-presidents leaned over their wives to chat with one another. Bill Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama shared a quiet conversation.

But the Trumps’ arrival, minutes ahead of the motorcade carrying Bush’s casket, cast a pall on the conversation. First lady Melania Trump approached first, greeting both Obamas and former President Clinton with a handshake. Hillary Clinton appeared to nod at Mrs. Trump but did not interact with Trump himself and stared straight ahead during the service. Jimmy Carter waved a hand. The president then shook hands with both Obamas before taking his seat.

After that, the small talk along the row largely stopped.

Next followed George W. Bush, who, by contrast, shook hands with the entire row of dignitaries — and appeared to share a moment of humor with Michelle Obama, slipping something into her hand. Bush took his seat across the aisle from the ex-presidents, with the rest of the Bush family.

The Trump-Obama handshake marked the first direct interaction between the current president and his immediate predecessor since Inauguration Day 2017. Trump has not spoken to Democrats Clinton or Obama since that day.

He did speak with the younger Bush during the contentious confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, as the previous Republican president helped lobby for his former aide. Democrat Carter has been briefed by White House officials on North Korea, though it was not clear if he has engaged directly with Trump.

Trump has sought to meet the elder Bush’s passing with grace, a contrast to the rhythms of much of his tumultuous presidency. He came to office after a campaign in which he harshly criticized his Democratic predecessors and co-opted a Republican Party once dominated by the Bush family. Despite the traditional kinship among presidents, Trump’s predecessors have all made their discomfort known in different ways.

“It’s unusual that a cabal of ex-presidents from both parties dislike a sitting president and that’s what you’ve got happening right now,” said Douglas Brinkley, a history professor at Rice University.

By virtue of health, longevity and opportunities for continued influence, ex-presidents are sticking around longer than ever and staying active in the public eye.

Past presidents often built relationships with their predecessors, Brinkley said. “Bill Clinton would reach out to Richard Nixon for advice on Russia,” he said. “Harry Truman leaned heavily on Herbert Hoover. It’s endless.”

To be sure, Brinkley added, those ties vary from president to president and there have been chilly relationships as well, noting, for example, that “FDR would never talk to Herbert Hoover.”

Busy with a mix of personal pursuits, charitable endeavors — and, in some cases, paid speaking gigs — the former leaders don’t mingle very often, making a funeral in their group a big occasion. Bonded by the presidency, they tend to exercise caution in their comments about each other. Still, all the living former presidents have aimed barbs — directly or indirectly — at Trump.

In a speech in September, Obama slammed the “crazy stuff” coming out of the White House without directly naming Trump. Last year, the younger Bush made a speech that confronted many of the themes of Trump’s presidency without mentioning him by name, cautioning that “bigotry seems emboldened” and the nation’s politics “seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”

Over the summer, Carter told The Washington Post that Trump’s presidency was a “disaster.” And Clinton — stung by Trump’s defeat of wife Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race — told a weekly newspaper in New York state after her stunning loss that Trump “doesn’t know much.”

Even the late Bush’s feelings about Trump were harsh at times. In Mark K. Updegrove’s book “The Last Republicans,” published last year, the elder Bush called Trump a “blowhard.”

The late Bush said he voted for Clinton in 2016 while George W. Bush said he voted for “none of the above.”

There have been other moments when the ex-presidents offered more sympathetic sentiments for Trump. After Trump’s surprise victory, Obama stood in the Rose Garden at the White House and said he was “rooting” for the next president. Carter told The New York Times in 2017 the media had been harder on Trump than other presidents. Clinton said in June that America should be rooting for Trump to succeed in his North Korea talks.

While he has struggled to set the right tone in past moments of national grief, Trump has gone out of his way to address Bush’s passing with consideration, issuing kind statements and ensuring that Bush family members have whatever they need for the funeral. On Tuesday, first lady Melania Trump welcomed Laura Bush and other family members for a tour of the White House Christmas decorations. And Trump and the first lady visited with members of the Bush family at Blair House.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Kavanaugh: Another conspiracy junkie focused on Clintons?

The angry Brett Kavanaugh ((Saul Loeb/Pool Image via AP)

To some, Brett Kavanaugh is clearing his name. To others, he’s veering into conspiracy theory.

But in blaming “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” for the sexual misconduct allegations against him, the Supreme Court nominee is drawing new attention to his time on the Kenneth Starr team investigating Bill Clinton. And in doing so, he’s shown he can deliver a Trump-like broadside against detractors even if it casts him in a potentially partisan light.

As a young lawyer, Kavanaugh played a key role on Starr’s team investigating sexual misconduct by then-President Bill Clinton, helping to shape one of the most salacious chapters in modern political history.

Kavanaugh spent a good part of the mid-1990s jetting back and forth to Little Rock, Arkansas, digging into the Clintons’ background, according to documents that were made public as part of his nomination to the Supreme Court.

It was Kavanaugh who pushed Starr to ask Clinton, in graphic detail, about the nature of his sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. In a memo from 1998, Kavanaugh wrote that Starr should ask Clinton whether he engaged in phone sex and specific sexual acts with her.

Starr took Kavanaugh’s advice. His resulting report ultimately presented evidence that Clinton, in denying the affair, lied under oath. The report became the grounds for Clinton’s impeachment.

Now it’s Kavanaugh who is facing sexual misconduct allegations, including from Christine Blasey Ford, who said he groped her at a party when they were teens and tried to remove her clothes. And it’s Kavanaugh who was pushed to speak publicly in personal, painful detail.

In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh forcefully denied ever sexually assaulting Ford or anyone else. In an emotional statement, he put the blame for the accusations against him partly on the Clintons.

“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” Kavanaugh testified. The 53-year-old said it was being fueled by “pent-up anger” over President Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory and outside groups stoking fear about his judicial record. He also said it was revenge on behalf of the Clintons.

The “revenge” line has reverberated this week as senators await the results of an FBI background check investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. Democrats have called the comment a breathtaking breach of judicial impartiality that should be disqualifying on its own, while Republicans have defended the tenor of his remarks, saying he had every right to be upset. GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah calls it “righteous anger.”

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who was in Congress during Clinton’s impeachment, acknowledged Tuesday that Kavanaugh’s “lock-her-up grace note may be appealing to some.” But, he said, “it speaks volumes about this judge and how he would serve.”

At an event Tuesday, Hillary Clinton scoffed, “Boy, I’ll tell you, they give us a lot of credit.”

Clinton tried to run the logic of Kavanaugh’s claim during an event hosted by The Atlantic. “It would’ve had to have happened 36 years ago,” she said, “and that seems a stretch, even for the vast right-wing conspiracy stories about me.”

At last week’s hearing, Democratic senators on the dais were stunned.

“Is it your testimony — that the motivation of the courageous woman who sat where you did just a short time ago was revenge on behalf of a left-wing conspiracy or the Clintons?” asked Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Others welcomed Kavanaugh taking a page from the playbook of the man who nominated him, President Donald Trump.

It wasn’t quite a “Lock her up!” Trump rally cry, but Kavanaugh’s allies appreciated a hard-hitting defense of his own name and character that name-checked the Clintons. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. backed him up.

“Would you say you’ve been through hell?” Graham asked the judge.

“I’ve been through hell and then some,” Kavanaugh testified.

While Kavanaugh’s role in the Starr investigation is a part of the appellate court judge’s resume that may have received short shrift during days of confirmation hearings, plenty of players from that era remain central to today’s confirmation fight.

Graham had been a chief House prosecutor during Clinton’s impeachment trial. Other senators on the dais straddle both eras. Clinton has been making media rounds. Starr has recently published a new book about his experience.

A former top aide to Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Brian Fallon, leads the outside group Demand Justice that Kavanaugh was likely referring to in his outburst. Fallon said Tuesday that Kavanaugh’s “unhinged, partisan rant last week is just another reason he is not fit for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.”

Democrats had tried to portray Kavanaugh as a partisan warrior from the moment he was nominated, but failed to gain much traction with it. But the Clintons’ revenge theory revealed a different side of Kavanaugh that won’t be forgotten if he makes it to the high court.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history at Princeton University, said Kavanaugh “has been fighting the Republican war since the 1990s.”

“He revealed a great deal about who he is and what drives him,” he said.

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Copyright © 2018 Capitol Hill Blue

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved