The schedules, made public Wednesday, offer only the skeleton of her life as first lady and neither confirm nor rebut her claims that her White House experience prepared her to one day hold the office of president.
Though there’s little to suggest she had a seat at the table for substantive negotiations during trips abroad, the schedules reflect her active involvement back home on key domestic policy initiatives, most notably the failed health care reforms pushed by her husband’s administration.
The schedules will surely provide fodder to supporters of her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, who argues that Clinton, now a New York senator, drastically exaggerated her involvement in the achievements of Bill Clinton’s presidency, particularly in the foreign policy arena.
The schedules cover more than 11,000 pages. Nearly half of the schedule pages include redactions, justified primarily by codes indicating the excluded information “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy” or “would disclose information compiled for law enforcement purposes.”
Though many redactions appear to be telephone numbers or other personal information, other exclusions cover entire meetings and their participants.
The release of the documents comes against the backdrop of months of campaign trail debate over the issue of transparency, with Obama — who has released his recent tax returns — calling on Clinton to do the same and Clinton calling on Obama to release records related to his relationship with his indicted fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
Jay Carson, a Clinton campaign spokesman, picked up that drumbeat after the release of the schedules, which he asserted “help illustrate Hillary Clinton's extensive and exhaustive work as a public servant and her role as an influential advocate at home and around the world on behalf of our country.”
To be sure, the schedules detail scores of White House meetings with foreign dignitaries and trips around the globe. But in almost every case, Clinton appears to have filled the traditional role of goodwill emissary rather than diplomat in her own right.
One typical instance was a three-day, January 1994 trip with her husband and daughter to Russia and Belarus. While in Russia, President Clinton and then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin unveiled an agreement between their nations and Ukraine intended to secure former Soviet nuclear warheads. In Belarus, the President prodded leaders to institute democratic reforms and signed an agreement to encourage U.S. investment.
When Hillary Clinton wasn’t participating in ceremonial events with her husband, her schedule shows she spent most of her time with Yeltsin’s wife and other Russian and Belarusian spouses and U.S. officials. She toured a cathedral and two hospitals, watched a birthing class, took in a ballet and had a lunch at the Kremlin of blinis with caviar and salmon, game chaudfroid and mutton baked in puff pastry.
She was, however, slated to deliver what the schedule described as “very brief remarks” after her husband at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.
After Belarus, the Clintons flew to Geneva, where Bill Clinton was to meet with then-Syrian President Hafez Assad about his country’s peace talks with Israel.
Hillary Clinton’s schedule that day included only an unidentified event at the U.S. Mission there.
On another foreign trip, this one to Vietnam in November 2000, the schedule offers an insight into the prospective activities: “Le Thi Luong demonstrates how she feeds the pigs using her homemade tofu waste. Upon the conclusion of this, HRC proceeds o motorcade.”
The Clinton campaign asserted she used some of the trips to the more than 80 countries reflected on the schedule to pursue the administration's “domestic and foreign policy goals.”
Certainly some of Clinton’s travels expanded the horizons of a first lady’s traditional responsibilities, such as her 1995 speech in Beijing to the United Nations World Conference on Women in which she used the opportunity to denounce human rights abuses by the Chinese government.
On the domestic front, the schedules show Clinton’s intense involvement in the push for health care reforms championed by her husband, which included more than a dozen White House meetings with individual members of Congress — almost exclusively Democrats. The reforms collapsed under intense Republican opposition.
Her schedule from Nov. 10, 1993, calls for her to deliver remarks to a briefing on NAFTA, a trade agreement she has criticized on the campaign trail.
Schedules from the final two years of the Clinton administration detail Clinton’s progression from First Lady to politician, and offer some insight into preparations for her 2000 Senate run.
A series of “revised schedules” for 1999 and 2000, appended to the main document, shows Clinton in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 1999, at an undisclosed “private residence” to participate in a “NY Senate 2000 Prospecting Event” that remained closed to the press.
Exercising her prerogative as first lady, her plane then flew to Moffett Air Force Base at the south end of San Francisco Bay. In San Francisco, Clinton held a series of closed-press fundraising events for her nascent Senate campaign at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill. At one event, she sat at the head table next to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after being introduced by Susie Tompkins Buell, the wealthy founder and co-owner of the Esprit clothing company.
Subsequent items list a series of fundraisers, such as the sit-down dinner for 40 persons that occurred at the posh Georgetown apartment of Ron and Beth Dozoretz on Feb. 21, 2000. Dozoretz has been a major Democratic fundraiser since first meeting the Clintons at Madison Square Garden during the 1992 Democratic National Convention.
Clinton was introduced at the event, listed as a “NY Senate 2000 National Finance Board Dinner,” by Bill de Blasio, who managed her Senate campaign and later won election as a New York City councilman from Brooklyn.
Avi Zenilman contributed to this story.