10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals

Khalid Elhassan - June 12, 2018

Presidential perving existed long before Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; before Trump and Stormy Daniels; before Trump and Karen McDougal; before Trump and Moscow hookers; before Trump getting accused by an ex-wife of rape; before Trump and … Earlier presidents were just lucky to live in eras when the media and public had less of an appetite for nonstop reporting about the president’s penis.

Following are ten presidential sex scandals that would rock America if it happened today. Then again, maybe not.

Grover Cleveland, a Date Rapist Who Took Corruption to New Levels to Silence His Victim

Grover Cleveland (1837 – 1908) is best known today for being the only American president to serve two non-consecutive terms. He was elected America’s 22nd president in 1884, won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College in 1888, then bounced back and was elected America’s 24th president in 1892. A Democrat reformer, Cleveland left his mark by fighting the day’s endemic political corruption and had a reputation for integrity and honesty. He was also known for surviving sex scandals that would sink any Democrat today.

With some exceptions, such as with Thomas Jefferson, most presidential perversions and sex scandals involved consensual hanky panky, or boorish conduct amounting to workplace sexual harassment. Inappropriate behavior, but not violent criminal conduct. Not so with Grover Cleveland: his biggest sex scandal involved straightforward rape, and shocking levels of corruption and abuse of power in covering it up.

It began on the evening of December 15th, 1873, with a chance street encounter in Buffalo. That was when Maria Halpin ran into Cleveland, then a prominent lawyer and former Sheriff of Erie County, which included Buffalo. Cleveland, a stocky six-footer who had been courting Halpin for months, invited her to dinner at a restaurant, and she accepted. After a pleasant meal, he escorted her back to her boarding house, and there, the pleasantness stopped. According to Halpin in an affidavit, the future president sexually assaulted her “by use of force and violence and without my consent“. When she threatened to report the rape, she added, the former sheriff threatened her into silence. As her affidavit continued, Cleveland: “told me he was determined to ruin me if it cost him $10,000, if he was hanged by the neck for it. I then and there told him that I never wanted to see him again, and commanded him to leave my room, which he did“.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
A cartoon from the 1884 presidential election, about the Halpin Scandal. Wikimedia

A few weeks later, Halpin discovered she was pregnant, and she gave birth to a baby boy in September of 1874. When she declared that Cleveland was the father, he used his connections to shut her up. He had the child removed from his mother’s care and placed in an orphanage and had Halpin herself committed to a mental asylum. She was quickly released after an evaluation concluded that she was not insane, and had only been sent there in an egregious abuse of power by corrupt political elites.

Because real life is not fair, and justice and karma are often a joke, Cleveland got away with it. He went on to get elected Mayor of Buffalo, then Governor of New York, before running for president in 1884. News of the scandal and his illegitimate child came out during the presidential campaign, and his opponents attacked him for the contrast between his do-gooder public persona, and his seedy private life. A chant by opponents, mimicking a baby crying “Ma! Ma! Where’s my Pa?!” dogged the Cleveland campaign. He won, however, and his supporters retorted with the counter chant: “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Warren G. Harding. ThoughtCo.

Warren G. Harding Used the Secret Service as Lookouts While Having Illicit Sex in a White House Closet

America’s 29th president, Warren G. Harding (1865 – 1923), is consistently ranked amongst the country’s worst, and his administration, from 1921 until his death in 1923, is best remembered for scandals, sexual and official. The most salient scandal was Teapot Dome, in which Harding’s Secretary of the Interior took bribes to lease oil fields to private oil companies at low rates, without competitive bidding. Other scandals involved his Attorney General taking bribes from bootleggers, and his director of the Veterans Bureau enriching himself by engaging in massive graft. Revelations about affairs with mistresses inflicted yet more damage on Harding’s reputation.

In today’s blizzard of scandals, shenanigans like those of Harding and his administration would probably occupy the news cycle for a few days, tops. However, the 1920s were a more innocent era, and such scandals shook the country. Between the corruption and the details of the sexual escapades with his mistresses, Harding’s public regard, which had been exceptionally high at the time of his death, took a nosedive and was replaced with contempt.

Starting in 1899, Harding worked his way up the political ladder from Ohio state senator to failed Republican nominee for governor, to winner of a 1914 election to the US Senate. Throughout most of his political career, he had carried on an extramarital affair with Carrie Fulton Phillips. As historians would discover from love letters he wrote her, Harding referred to his penis as “private chief of staff”, but more often he referred to it by the nickname “Jerry”.

In one such letter, Harding wrote to Phillips: “Jerry — you recall Jerry…— came in while I was pondering your notes in glad reflection, and we talked about it…He told me to say that you are the best and darlingest in the world, and if he could have but one wish, it would be to be held in your darling embrace and be thrilled by your pink lips that convey the surpassing rapture of human touch“. He ended the affair after 15 years in 1920 while running for president.

The Phillips affair was low-key. A more explosive one was with Nan Britton, who wrote a tell-all book after Harding’s death, The President’s Daughter, in which she alleged that Harding had fathered an illegitimate daughter upon her. Britton described salacious details that make the Clinton and Monica Lewinsky affair look like amateur hour. Among other things, Warren G. and Nan got it on in White House closets, with Secret Service agents posted as lookouts to turn away intruders. After she gave birth, Nan alleged that the president paid her child support of $500 a month – a considerable sum back then.

Understandably, Harding’s family rushed to defend what was left of his reputation, and denied the affair. Painting Nan Britton as a liar, they alleged that the 29th president had been infertile, and so could not have possibly fathered a child upon Nan. Things remained in a he-said-they-said standoff until 2015, when a DNA test conclusively proved that the daughter, Elizabeth Ann Bleasing, was, indeed, Harding’s child.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Lyndon Baines Johnson. Wikimedia

LBJ Named His Penis “Jumbo” and Liked Showing it Off

If not for the Vietnam War, America’s 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, (1908 – 1973) might have gone down in history as one of the country’s greatest. He spent decades in Congress, both in the House and Senate, whose Majority Leader he became in the 1950s. When fate elevated him from vice president to president following JFK’s assassination in 1963, he entered the Oval Office with an unequaled mastery of the legislative process.

He put that mastery to good use, pushing through landmark legislative accomplishments such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Both Medicare and Medicaid were also started during his LBJ administration. Had Vietnam not derailed his ambitious “Great Society” program, LBJ would probably rank alongside FDR as one of America’s most transformative presidents.

Another thing that might have derailed Johnson’s ambitions was his… Johnson. LBJ was always eager to let those around him know that he had an unusually large penis, and that would not have sat well in the #MeToo era. A competitive womanizer, whenever people mentioned JFK’s many affairs, LBJ would bang the table and brag that he had more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose. Today, the sheer number of sexual assault allegations LBJ’s conduct invited would probably force a presidential resignation – at least if he was a Democrat president or a TV one.

From early on, Johnson was notorious for skeeving out people, especially in Capitol bathrooms. If a colleague entered as he was finishing off at the urinal, LBJ would often swing around, still holding his member, and whirl it around while hooting: “Woo-eee! Have you ever seen something as big as this?!” Johnson would then begin discussing pending legislation, while continuing to brandish and shake his Johnson.

Johnson had no humility when it came to his penis, which he called “Jumbo”. In an alpha male ritual of primacy assertion, LBJ obliged aides, both male and female, to take dictation standing in the door of his office bathroom, while he urinated or defecated. Even on the floors of the House or Senate, Johnson would extravagantly rummage away at his crotch, frequently reaching through his pocket to better position “Jumbo”, so its outline could show beneath his pants.

He never tired of working a penis size boast into conversations, as a clip from the LBJ Tapes, recording a phone call with his tailor illustrates: “Another thing, the crotch, down where your nuts hang – it’s always a little too tight. So when you make them up, gimme an inch that I can let out there, because they cut me“. He also had a special nozzle installed in his White House bathroom, positioned to shoot water directly at his penis while he showered. He refused to listen to arguments from White House staff that installing the special nozzle would require a great deal of plumbing work, and insisted on having his way. Being POTUS, he of course had his way, telling the staff: “If I can move 10,000 troops in a day, you can certainly fix the bathroom any way I want it“.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
John F. Kennedy. The Famous People

John F. Kennedy Was a Sex Addict

John F. Kennedy liked telling anybody who would listen: “If I don’t have sex every day, I get a headache“. His short stint in office, tragically cut short by an assassin, is often romantically referred to as “the thousand days”. However, “the thousand nights” would be just as apt: the man was pretty much a satyr from Ancient Greek mythology come to life. Lacking anything resembling self-control, JFK celebrated his spellbinding inaugural address by having sex with a Hollywood star, then went on to seduce dozens of more women in the ensuing years.

Kennedy was obsessed with sex from an early age. He lost his virginity as a teenager in a Harlem whorehouse, and from that day on, women were seldom far from his mind. His insatiable urge for sexual conquests was fueled by an array of traumas rattling inside his head: his father’s conspicuous adulteries; issues with his mother; his ill health; a close brush with death during World War II; and the deaths of a brother and sister. They all combined in a complex mental brew to make JFK a compulsive womanizer.

Among his less serious dalliances before he became famous were affairs with a former Miss Europe, Inga “Binga” Arvad, whom the FBI suspected of being a German spy, and textile heiress Frances Cannon. Cannon went on to marry a New Yorker magazine writer named John Hersey, who did a story on PT-109 that made Kennedy nationally famous, put him on the map as a World War II hero, and set the stage for his political career.

As a Congressman in the 1940s and 1950s, Kennedy indiscriminately sampled from a smorgasbord of women, running a gamut that included accomplished women, strippers, socialites, secretaries, and airline stewardesses. He was in it for the sex, not the intimacy. As one of his lovers described him, Kennedy was “nice – considerate in his own way, witty and fun. But he gave off light instead of heat. Sex was something to have done, not to be doing. He wasn’t in it for the cuddling“.

Unlike many who sow wild oats in their youths, then slow things down as they mature, JFK followed an opposite track: he became increasingly more promiscuous, reckless, and insatiable as he aged. Even marrying the stunningly beautiful and elegant Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953, and getting elected to the US Senate that same year, did not slow him down. Kennedy continued his reckless pursuit of extramarital affairs, any of which could have blown into a scandal at any moment, and blown away his presidential ambitions, or crippled his presidency after he got elected. Even in his relatively brief time in the White House, he had affairs running the gamut from a 19-year-old intern, to a mob-connected socialite, to Marilyn Monroe.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Gerald Ford, Ellen Rometsch, and JFK. Pinterest

Gerald Ford Shagged a Spy, and J. Edgar Hoover Used That to Blackmail Him

Gerald Ford (1913 – 2006), was picked by Nixon to serve as his vice president in 1973 after his vice president Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace because of a corruption scandal. Nine months later, Nixon himself was forced to resign in disgrace because of the Watergate scandal, and Ford automatically replaced him in the Oval Office as America’s 38th president. He was an unremarkable president, and his best-known presidential action was the pardoning of Nixon. Gerald Ford’s name today probably comes up most often as the answer to political Trivial Pursuit questions such as: “who was the only person to serve as vice president and president without having been elected to either office?“; or “who served the shortest term as president without having died in office?

However, if contemporary reporters had dug into his sex life with the same eagerness today’s reporters devote to the sex lives of politicians, Ford would probably be remembered for a juicy sex scandal, as well. To wit, for having had an affair with Ellen Rometsch, a suspected East German spy. The press did not find out about the affair at the time, but J. Edgar Hoover did, and he used the information to blackmail Ford.

Ellen Rometsch was an East German spy, tasked with befriending powerful American politicians and reporting back. She went to West Germany, where she married a West German air force sergeant, and accompanied him to Washington, DC, when he was assigned there. In DC, she got a job as a hostess at a salon organized by Bobby Baker, an LBJ aide, as a private club for male politicians. Rometsch arranged for hookers and went on dates with some of the members herself.

A stunner who looked like Elizabeth Taylor, Rometsch got Baker to introduce her to then-president John F. Kennedy. JFK being JFK, it was not long before sex ensued. As Baker put it: “She really loved oral sex. … She went the White House several times. And president Kennedy called me and said it’s the best head-job he’d ever had, and he thanked me“.

Rometsch got around, and her sexcapades extended beyond the White House. Another of the seductress’ conquests was Gerald Ford, then a Congressman. After Kennedy was killed, Ford was appointed to the Warren Commission investigating the JFK assassination. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was frustrated with the Warren Commission because it was not sharing its findings with him. However, he had dirt on Ford: his affair with Rometsch. So he used that information to blackmail Ford into sharing the Commission’s findings. As described by a contemporary: “Hoover had this tape where Jerry Ford was having oral sex with Ellen Rometsch. You know, his wife had a serious drug problem back then… Hoover blackmailed Ford to tell him what they were doing“.

As to Ellen Rometsch, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy got wind that the FBI was investigating her as a suspected spy, and taking a hard look at her trail of seductions through Washington. To avert a political scandal similar to the then-recent Profumo Affair which had rocked England, RFK arranged for her to be quietly deported back to Germany.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
The wedding of Grover Cleveland and Frances Folsom in 1886. Wikimedia

Grover Cleveland Groomed a Child To Be His Wife

Raping a date and fathering an illegitimate child upon his victim was the worst thing (that we know of) about Grover Cleveland. However, it was not his only pervy act. Another item from his personal life, which would amount to an icky sex scandal if it happened today, was the iffy relationship between Cleveland and his eventual wife, Frances Folsom (1864 – 1947).

Frances Clara Folsom, was born in Buffalo, New York, the only surviving child of Oscar Folsom, a lawyer and longtime close friend of Cleveland. At age 27, the future president met his future wife and future First Lady shortly after she was born. Cooing over the newborn, Cleveland took an interest in baby Frances while she was still in swaddling clothes. He bought her a pram, used to babysit her as “Uncle Cleve”, and doted on her.

Frances’ father was killed in an accident while racing his carriage in 1875, and left no will. So a court-appointed Cleveland to administer his deceased friend’s estate. That brought him in even closer and more frequent contact with Frances. Cleveland became her new father figure and her hero. Unlike Frances’ real father, who had been notoriously careless of both his life and his family, “Uncle Cleve” was dependable, quite attentive, and doting. He continued to dote on her as she grew up, and at some point, things went from doting to grooming: Cleveland took to sending her flowers, with notes saying “I am waiting for my bride to grow up“.

People thought Cleveland was kidding, but as things turned out, he was in deadly earnest. After Cleveland was elected president and while Frances was in college, he sent her a letter proposing marriage and sweated her reply like a schoolboy. She agreed, and on June 2nd, 1886, as the Marine Band was conducted by John Philip Sousa, 21-year-old Frances Folsom wed the 49-year-old president in the White House’s Blue Room. To date, it is the only time a president was married in the White House or while in office.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
George H.W. Bush and Jennifer Fitzgerald

George H.W. Bush Kept a Long Term Mistress For Decades

George Herbert Walker Bush (1924 – ) served as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, before succeeding him in the Oval Office, serving a single term as America’s 41st president. Before that, his public service life included stints as a Congressman, an ambassador, and as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Throughout his public career, few knew that Bush, whose campaign platform included a family values plank, and who had been endorsed by The Moral Majority, had kept mistresses.

Unlike some other presidents on this list, Bush was never a compulsive womanizer – certainly nowhere close to the indiscriminate skirt-chasing levels of a JFK or LBJ. Instead, Bush maintained a few discrete relationships, which his wife Barbara tolerated because he was the soul of discretion, never humiliated her, and usually carried on his affairs out of town so as not to jeopardize his marriage. But he did carry on affairs – and they tended to be long-term ones. An example would one he carried out with an Italian woman, whom he kept in a New York City apartment in the 1960s.

However, the keeping mistresses far away routine changed when he came across Jennifer Fitzgerald, a 42 year old short and pretty blond divorcee. She worked as a personal assistant to one of Gerald Ford’s aides, and Bush was smitten when he met her. In 1974, Bush was appointed ambassador to China, and he arranged to have Fitzgerald join him there as his secretary.

Bush told friends that he chose Fitzgerald to act as a buffer between him and Henry Kissinger’s State Department, but few bought it. As one embassy staffer put it: “I don’t know what skills she brought to the job. She certainly couldn’t type“. Fitzgerald arrived in Beijing on December 5th, 1974, and the following day, Bush took her for a 12 day “diplomatic conference” in Hawaii.

Unlike his previous affairs, which Barbara Bush had turned a blind eye to, the situation with Fitzgerald was way more than a dalliance. As described by a close family friend: “It wasn’t just another woman. It was a woman who came to exert enormous influence over George for many, many years. … She became, in essence, his other wife … his office wife“. Barbara ended up burning her love letters with Bush, which she had treasured since World War II and went into a severe depression.

Bush did not stay in Beijing for long, and the following year, President Ford asked him to become his CIA Director. Bush accepted, but only on the condition that he be allowed to bring Fitzgerald with him to the CIA as his confidential assistant. A memo in Ford’s Presidential Library, dated November 23rd, 1975, states: “Please advise me as soon as you have completed office space arrangements for George Bush and Miss Fitzgerald“.

Bush traveled around the world as head of the CIA, and took Fitzgerald with him, while Barbara Bush spiraled into a deep depression that brought her to the brink of suicide on multiple occasions. The affair continued, even as Bush indulged in other dalliances, such as an intense but brief affair with a young photographer during the 1980 presidential campaign.

When the Reagan-Bush ticket won in 1980, Fitzgerald was brought along as a member of the vice-presidential staff. Tongues wagged, but Bush was deaf to them, and he kept his mistress by his side during his 8 years as vice president. When he ran for president in 1988, Bush appointed Fitzgerald as his liaison to Congress, and upon winning the election, he made her his chief of protocol. The affair finally ended after The New York Post exposed it during Bush’s failed 1992 reelection campaign.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Thomas Jefferson. Wisconsin Gazette

Thomas Jefferson Engaged in Rape, Pedophilia, and Incest With His Dead Wife’s Lookalike Sister

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) was the other American president, aside from Grover Cleveland, whose sexual conduct involved what would count as clear-cut violent sexual criminality today. The Founding Father and leading member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence was a complicated man, to put it mildly. On the one hand, he penned some of the most stirring words in advocating freedom, liberty, and equality. Jefferson’s phrase in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” has moved and inspired idealists for centuries. On the other hand, Jefferson pursued his happiness in a hilltop plantation, Monticello, leading a life of luxury, that was only made possible by the labor of hundreds of chattel slaves.

He also had a creepy relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings (1773 – 1835) – although calling it a “relationship” might be misleading: today, it would be considered straightforward rape. Sally Hemmings was a slave, kept in bondage by a brutal system in which violence, including deadly violence, was used to coerce its victims and secure their compliance. She had as much choice in submitting to Thomas Jefferson’s sexual demands as does a modern kidnapped victim, who finds herself chained for years in some psychopath’s basement.

Even if she had not been a slave, there would still have been something super creepy about the age disparity between Sally Hemmings and the famous Founding Father. Thomas Jefferson was 44 years old when he started having sex with Sally. She was all 13 or 14 years old. Even if she had been a willing participant, it would be considered statutory rape today: children that young simply lack the maturity to consent to sex.

Another layer of creepiness is that Thomas Jefferson’s child concubine was also his dead wife’s sister and lookalike. Sally Hemmings was the daughter of a slave woman and John Wayles, Thomas Jefferson’s father-in-law. That made her the biological half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson (1748 – 1782). Sally, who was 9 when her half-sister died, bore a striking resemblance to the deceased Martha, and the resemblance only increased as she grew. Jefferson missed his dead wife, so when her lookalike sister was 13 or 14, he slept with/ raped her.

In short, Thomas Jefferson having sex with Sally Hemmings would be an epic scandal if it had happened today, hitting just about every icky button there is. Pedophilia? Check. Incest? Check. Violence, coercion, and rape? Check, check, and check. Adding another layer to it all is that Jefferson fathered six children upon Sally, and kept them as slaves. He eventually got around to freeing his children, but he never freed his concubine: Sally Hemmings was still Thomas Jefferson’s slave when he died in 1826.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, and Marilyn Monroe. TMZ

John F. Kennedy, His Brother Bobby, and Marilyn Monroe

As seen in a previous entry, John F. Kennedy was a sex addict who had extramarital affairs more frequently than many people go grocery shopping. However, of all of JFK’s numerous affairs, none would probably produce as great a scandal and media firestorm today as his affair with Marilyn Monroe. It would make the media circus surrounding Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, or Trump and Stormy Daniels, look tame.

Monroe caught Kennedy’s eye after she made a spectacular entrance at a New York dinner party held in his honor in early 1962. He was immediately attracted to her, and they hooked up in Palm Springs soon thereafter. However, she took it more seriously than he did, and did little to hide what was going on. Her sultry “Happy Birthday” performance for JFK during a fundraising event in Madison Square Garden – in the presence of his wife, no less – fueled the rumor machines.

Tongues wagged about the barely concealed affair between the president and the blond bombshell. However, JFK was lucky in that the media of his day was nothing like today’s. Nonetheless, the gossip caused Kennedy to back away from Monroe and end things – to him, she was just one among dozens of pretty (and discrete) women he had slept with. To Monroe, he was the only president she had slept with, and she was not about to give up that easy. She kept calling the White House, trying to rekindle the affair, until JFK sent somebody over to convince her that it was over and that she needed to stop.

The affair’s aftermath would have made for a spectacular scandal in of itself had it taken place today. After JFK was done with Marilyn, he basically passed her on to Robert F. Kennedy, his younger brother and the United States’ Attorney General. RFK’s image was that of a happily married and devoted husband, raising a large and steadily increasing family that would eventually number 11 children. He was viewed as the most family-oriented and straitlaced of the Kennedy brothers, so there would have been a jarring contrast between that public perception and an affair with the iconic sex symbol.

Marilyn’s unexpected death a few months later would have made things even more explosive. The coroner ruled Monroe’s 1962 death a probable suicide via barbiturates, but conspiracy theories abounded, alleging that JFK or RFK had been involved. The sudden death of a former mistress of the president, who then became the mistress of his brother, the Attorney General and the president’s right-hand man? That would have made for a nonstop media-feeding frenzy today.

10 Historic Presidential Affair Scandals
Washington Times front page, re the Bush White House homosexual prostitution ring scandal. Veterans Today

A Gay Prostitution Ring Reached Into George H.W. Bush’s White House

The scandal of George H. W. Bush’s mistresses pales in comparison to the Bush White House’s gay prostitution ring scandal. The recent Pizzagate conspiracy theory, alleging that Hillary Clinton and high ranking Democrats ran a child prostitution ring in the basement of a Washington, DC, pizzeria (which had no basement) is pretty batsh*t. However, there was a time when a prostitution ring actually did reach into the White House – that of George H. W. Bush.

On June 29th, 1989, Washington’s conservative newspaper, The Washington Times, dropped a bombshell by running a story describing a gay prostitution ring that reached into Bush Senior’s White House. With a headline taking up the entire front page’s top, the Washington Times announced: “Homosexual Prostitution Inquiry Ensnares VIPS With Reagan, Bush: ‘Call Boys’ Took Tour of the White House“.

The details were just as salacious as the headline, describing a federal investigation into a gay prostitution ring whose clients included key officials of the Reagan and Bush administration, and US military officers. Some of the clients had the kind of access that enabled them to arrange 1 AM White House tours for their friends, including male prostitutes.

In a nutshell, during Bush’s time in office in the 1980s, both as vice president and as president, male and female prostitutes were routinely waltzing in and out of the White House. Even if Bush himself had not partaken – and the Washington Times dropped titillating hints that he actually might have – it is highly unlikely that he was unaware of what was going on. Especially considering that Bush had once headed the CIA.

Pentagon officials told the Times that, throughout the 1980s, military and civilian intelligence were worried that “a nest of homosexuals” high in the Reagan and Bush administrations might have been penetrated by Soviet agents. The concern was that young male prostitutes were being used to compromise high-ranking officials, and render them vulnerable to blackmail.

It was a huge story, and then… just like that, it disappeared. The US Attorney running the inquiry, who had initially cooperated with The Washington Times, suddenly clammed up, and the newspaper’s access to details about the inquiry dried up. The investigation was allowed to quietly gather dust before it was finally shelved, and just as quietly, dropped. It was an illustrative example of Washington, DC, effectively circling the wagons to snuff out a scandal that threatened to splatter dirt far and wide.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources & Further Reading

Cheat Sheet – Shocking Sex Scandals of Former US Presidents

Daily Beast, May 23rd, 2011 – Grover Cleveland’s Sex Scandal: The Most Despicable in American Political History

Guardian, The, January 22nd, 2018 – Why Lyndon Johnson, a Truly Awful Man, is My Political Hero

Monticello – Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming: A Brief Account

Your Tango, November 21, 2013 – 11 Things You Didn’t Know About JFK’s Love Life

Politico, November 19th, 2013 – Sex in the Senate: Bobby Baker’s Salacious Secret History of Capitol Hill

Ranker – 16 Presidents You Never Knew Did Insanely Perverted Stuff

Rumpus, The, February 21st, 2011 – On This Presidents’ Day: A Brief History of Presidential Sex

Times, The, September 19th, 2004 – Mistress of Influence: Bush’s ‘Other Wife’

Washington Post, July 3rd, 2014 – The First Celebrity First Lady: Frances Cleveland

Wikimedia – Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston

History Collection – Scandals the US Founding Fathers Tried to Keep Secret

History Collection – 5 Political Scandals of the 1950s

History Channel – Historic Presidential Affairs That Never Made it To the Tabloids

History Collection – Terrible Facts about the American Founding Fathers that Didn’t Make it to the History Books

History Collection – Conspiracy Theories About Our Founding Fathers

Politico – America’s Horniest President

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