D.C.

Scandal in D.C.: District no stranger to scandals

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If you watched Scandal last night, you know the subject matter is often art imitating life - though technically it's all fiction.

But there's no shortage of real life scandals in our city's history.

One of our first scandals was in 1859. U.S. representative Daniel Sickles was out of town, a lot.

"His wife Theresa, she puts a white handkerchief on the railing of the second floor and across the square, her lover, Philip Barton Key, who happens to be the son of Francis Scott Key and the attorney general here in D.C., he'd come out see that hanker chief and show his own handkerchief and that would be their signal to rendezvous," says guide Sean Williams of D.C. Walkabout.

When Sickles learns of an affair and fingers point to Key, Sickles tells his wife to send the signal again. And then he shows up instead.

“Sickles says, ‘Key you scoundrel, you betrayed my house, now prepare to die,’” said Williams.

He shoots and kills Key in Lafayette Park. Confesses and is tried, but the close friend of the president pleads temporary insanity, a first, and he isn't just freed.

In scandal two, we revisit the murder of President Abraham Lincoln.

Henry Rathbone was seated next to the president that fateful night at Ford’s theatre and was unable to stop John Wilkes Booth. The guilt overwhelms him. He becomes a consulate in Germany, goes mad and claims to hear voices.

"It's almost Christmas, December of 1883, he kills his wife, he makes an attempt at his children, they have three kids,” says Williams. "He tries to kill himself, he stabs himself repeatedly it doesn't work. He's deemed criminally insane so he spends almost 20 years in an insane asylum.”

In scandal 3, Russia's former president Boris Yeltsin is visiting then-President Bill Clinton and staying at Blair House across the street.

He stays up at night drinking vodka and then goes missing for about an hour. When he’s found, he’s wearing nothing but his underwear.

Details are murky, but Secret Service finds him hailing a cab looking for - what else? - a slice of pizza.

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