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Hillary Clinton isn’t running for office but she’s still grist for the GOP mill, so it should come as no surprise that an old claim about her credibility is making the rounds running up to the midterms.
Clinton was featured in an old photo that was first posted to Facebook on Oct. 9, 2016 and is still gathering comments, shares and reactions.
"In Case Y’all Forgot!!!!" the caption to the photo began, "As a 27 year old staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation, Hillary Rodham was fired by her supervisor, lifelong Democrat Jerry Zeifman."
The words surrounded a printed picture of Clinton from back in 1974, when impeachment charges were brought against then-President Richard Nixon.
The post continued: "When asked why Hillary Rodham was fired, Zeifman said in an interview, ‘Because she was a liar. She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer, she conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the Committee, and the rules of confidentiality.’"
The person who posted the picture wrote on her Facebook page that it was a news clipping she saved 20 years ago. This particular post dates back to October 2016, when Clinton was the Democratic presidential nominee, but as of this week, it’s been shared more than 253,000 times with people continuing to comment today. This story was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Though the person who posted the image didn’t respond to a message seeking more information, they’re not alone in circulating the allegation. Clinton was one of dozens of attorneys hired by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 1972 to work on the Watergate impeachment inquiry. Zeifman, who was Democratic general counsel to the committee during the Watergate scandal, died in 2010, so we can’t ask him if he fired her because she was a liar.
But other people have. In 1999, Lance Gay reported for the Scripps Howard News Service that Zeifman didn’t have "flattering memories" of Clinton’s work on the committee. "If I had the power to fire her, I would have fired her," Gay quotes Zeifman as saying. Gay also interviewed Jay Woods, an Oakland attorney who supervised the lawyers, for the story. Gay, who described Woods as Clinton’s "ex-boss," reported that he described her as capable and cheerful.
Less than a decade later, Zeifman changed his story, according to the Washington Post. In a 2008 interview on "The Neal Boortz Show," fact-checker Glenn Kessler reports, Zeifman was asked directly if he fired her. "Well, let me put it this way," he said. "I terminated her, along with some other staff members who were — we no longer needed, and advised her that I would not — could not recommend her for further positions."
That year, an article by Dan Calabrese, founder of North Star Writers Group, claimed Zeifman was Clinton’s supervisor and had fired her. Clinton, who was making her first run for president that year, denied the allegation. Calabrese also quotes Zeifman as making the same statement that appears in the Facebook post.
But Zeifman’s credibility has been questioned over the years. In a 1996 review of his book, "Without Honor: Crimes of Camelot and the Impeachment of President Nixon," Washington Post reviewer Matthew Dallek notes that Zeifman’s book "will surely excite conspiracy buffs on the lookout for sinister coverups in high places. But those wary of such unsubstantiated theories (myself included) will find Zeifman’s book an unconvincing, if imaginative intrigue."
Snopes points out that Zeifman didn’t claim he fired Clinton in that book; it wasn’t until later that his recollection changed. Perhaps the best proof of whether Clinton was fired or not is in her pay records. Judiciary Committee pay records that were unearthed in 2016 by Washington Post researcher Alice Crites show that Clinton was paid through Sept. 4, 1974—after Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, and after the committee published its final impeachment report on Aug. 20, 1974.
We rate the claim that Hillary Clinton was fired from her job as a staff attorney during the during the Watergate investigation False.
Snopes, "Did Jerry Zeifman fire Hillary Clinton from the Watergate investigation?", Oct. 21, 2014
The Washington Post, "The zombie claim that Hillary Clinton was fired during the Watergate inquiry," Sept. 6, 2016
Obituary, Jerome M. Zeifman, Hull Funeral Home
Canada Free Press, "Watergate-era Judiciary chief of staff: Hillary Clinton fired for lies, unethical behavior," , Jan. 24, 2013
Scripps Howard News Service, "First lady has seen this movie before," 1999
The Washington Post, "Politics," Feb. 18, 1996
The New York Times, "Rodino Unit Issues Report Describing Case Against Nixon," Aug. 23, 1974
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