David Schippers Report House Judiciary Committee, Majority chief investigative counsel for impeachment, Probable direct and deliberate obstruction of justice witness tampering perjury and abuse of power leads abandoned due to strict time limits
David Schippers Report House Judiciary Committee, Majority chief investigative counsel for impeachment, Probable direct and deliberate obstruction of justice witness tampering perjury and abuse of power leads abandoned due to strict time limits
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On October 5, 1998, I came before this Committee to advise you of the results of our analysis and review of the Referral from the Office of the Independent Counsel. We concluded that there existed substantial and credible evidence of several separate events directly involving the President that COULD constitute grounds for impeachment. At that time I specifically limited my review and report to evidence of possible felonies. In addition, I asserted that the Report and analysis was merely a litany of crimes that MIGHT HAVE been committed.
On October 7, the House of Representatives passed Resolution 581 calling for an inquiry to determine whether the House should exercise its constitutional duty to impeach President William Jefferson Clinton.
Thereafter, this Committee heard testimony from several experts and other witnesses, including the Independent Counsel, Kenneth Starr.
Since that time, my staff and I, as requested, have conducted ongoing investigations and inquiries. We have received and reviewed additional information and evidence from the Independent Counsel, and have developed additional information from diverse sources.
Unfortunately, because of the extremely strict time limits placed upon us, a number of very promising leads had to be abandoned. We just ran out of time. In addition, many other allegations of possible serious wrongdoing cannot be presented publicly at this time by virtue of circumstances totally beyond our control.
For example, we uncovered more incidents involving probable direct and deliberate obstruction of justice, witness tampering, perjury and abuse of power. We were, however, informed both by the Department of Justice and by the Office of the Independent Counsel that to bring forth publicly that evidence at this time would seriously compromise pending criminal investigations that are nearing completion. We have bowed to their suggestion.
[ If I may digress very briefly from my prepared text, I want to tell you, the members of the committee, that I have been privileged to work with some of the finest human beings that I have ever met in my life. The staff of the committee and my personal staff that’s worked with me constitute some of the finest lawyers, the best investigators and just generally good people. They have worked till midnight, 1, 2 o’clock in the morning. They have worked through the weekends. They have done whatever had to be done. I owe them everything that you are going to hear today, and I really believe that they are entitled to the gratitude of this committee and the gratitude of the people of the United States.
Now I go on. ]
First of all, allow me to assert my profound and unqualified respect for the Office of the President of the United States. It represents to the American people and to the world, the strength, the philosophy and most of all, the honor and integrity that makes us a great nation and an example for developing people.
Because all eyes are focused upon that high office, the character and credibility of any temporary occupant of the office is vital to the domestic and foreign welfare of the citizens. Consequently, serious breaches of integrity and duty of necessity adversely influence the reputation of the United States.
When I appeared in this Committee Room a little over two months ago, it was merely to analyze the Referral and report. Today, after our investigation, I have come to a point that I prayed I would never reach. It is my sorrowful duty now to accuse President William Jefferson Clinton of obstruction of justice, false and deliberately misleading statements under oath, witness tampering, abuse of power, and false statements to and obstruction of the Congress of the United States in the course of this very impeachment inquiry. Whether these charges are high crimes and misdemeanors and whether the President should be impeached is not for me to say or even to give an opinion. That is your job. I am merely going to set forth the evidence and testimony before you so that you can judge.
As I stated earlier, this is not about sex or private conduct, it is about multiple obstructions of justice, perjury, false and misleading statements, witness tamperings and abuses of power, all committed or orchestrated by the President of the United States.
Before we get into the President’s lies and obstruction, it is important to place the events in the proper context. We have acknowledged all along that if this were only about sex, you would not now be engaged in this debate. But the manner in which the Lewinsky relationship arose and continued is important. It is illustrative of the character of the President and the decisions he made.
Monica Lewinsky, a 22 year old intern, was working at the White House during the government shutdown in 1995. Prior to their first intimate encounter, she had never even spoken with the President. Sometime on November 15, 1995, Ms. Lewinsky made an improper gesture to the President. What did the President do in response? Did the President immediately confront her or report to her supervisor as you would expect? Did he make it clear that such conduct would not be tolerated in the White House?
That would have been an appropriate reaction, but it was not the one the President took. Instead, the President of the United States of America invited this unknown young intern into a private area off the Oval Office, where he kissed her. He then invited her back later and when she returned, the two engaged in the first of many acts of inappropriate contact.
Thereafter, the two concocted a cover story. If Ms. Lewinsky was seen, she was bringing papers to the President. That story was totally false. The only papers she brought were personal messages having nothing to do with her duties or those of the President. After Ms. Lewinsky moved from the White House to the Pentagon, her frequent visits to the President were disguised as visits to Betty Currie. Those cover stories are important, because they play a vital role in the later perjuries and obstructions.
Over the term of their relationship the following significant matters occurred:
1. Monica Lewinsky and the President were alone on at least twenty-one occasions;
2. They had at least eleven personal sexual encounters, excluding phone sex:
Three in 1995
Five in 1996 and
Three in 1997;
3. They had at least 55 telephone conversations, some of which at least 17 involved phone sex;
4. The President gave Ms. Lewinsky 24 presents; and,
5. Ms. Lewinsky gave the President 40 presents.
These are the essential facts which form the backdrop for all of the events that followed. During the fall of 1997, things were relatively quiet. Monica Lewinsky was working at the Pentagon and looking for a high paying job in New York. The President’s attempt to stall the Paula Jones case was still pending in the Supreme Court, and nobody seemed to care one way or another what the outcome would be. Then, in the first week of December 1997, things began to unravel.
I do not intend to discuss the sexual details of the President’s encounters with Ms. Lewinsky. However, I do not want to give this Committee the impression that those encounters are irrelevant. In fact, they are highly relevant because the President repeatedly lied about that sexual relationship in his deposition, before the grand jury, and in his responses to this Committee’s questions. He has consistently maintained that Ms. Lewinsky performed acts on him, while he never touched her in a sexual manner. This characterization not only directly contradicts Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony, but it also contradicts the sworn grand jury testimony of three of her friends and the statements by two professional counselors with whom she contemporaneously shared the details of her relationship.
While his treatment of Ms. Lewinsky may be offensive, it is much more offensive for the President to expect this Committee to believe that in 1996 and 1997 his intimate contact with Ms. Lewinsky was so narrowly tailored that it conveniently escapes his strained interpretation of a definition of “sexual relations” which he did not conceive until 1998.
A few words of caution:
The evidence and testimony must be viewed as a whole; it cannot be compartmentalized. Please do not be cajoled into considering each event in isolation, and then treating it separately. That is the tactic employed by defense lawyers in every conspiracy trial that I have ever seen. Remember, events and words that may seem innocent or even exculpatory in a vacuum, may well take on a sinister, or even criminal connotation when observed in the context of the whole plot. For example, everyone agrees that Monica Lewinsky testified “No one ever told me to lie; nobody ever promised me a job.”
When considered alone this would seem exculpatory. In the context of the other evidence, we see that this is again technical parsing of words to give a misleading inference. Of course no one said, “Now, Monica, you go in there and lie.” They didn’t have to; Monica knew what was expected of her. Similarly, nobody promised her a job, but once she signed the false affidavit, she got one, didn’t she?
Likewise, please don’t permit the obfuscations and legalistic pyrotechnics of the President’s defenders to distract you from the real issues here. A friend of mine flew bombers over Europe in the Second War. He once told me that the planes would carry packages of lead based tinfoil strips. When the planes flew into the perimeter of the enemy’s radar coverage, the crews would release that tinfoil. It was intended to confuse and distract the radar operators from the real target.
Now, the treatment that Monica Lewinsky received from the Independent Counsel, the legality of Linda Tripp’s taping, the motives of some of the witnesses, and those who helped finance the Paula Jones lawsuit – that’s tinfoil. The real issues are whether the President of the United States testified falsely under oath; whether he engaged in a continuing plot to obstruct justice, to hide evidence, to tamper with witnesses and to abuse the power of his office in furtherance of that plot. The ultimate issue is whether the President’s course of conduct is such as to affect adversely the Office of the Presidency by bringing scandal and disrespect upon it and also upon the administration of justice, and whether he has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive to the Rule of Law and Constitutional government.
Finally, the truth is not decided by the number of scholars with different opinions, the outcome of polls or by the shifting winds of public opinion. Moreover, you often possess information that is not generally available to the public. As Representatives of the people you must honestly and thoroughly examine all the evidence, apply the applicable Constitutional precepts and vote your conscience – independently and without fear or favor. As Andrew Jackson said: “One man with courage makes a majority.”
The events that form the basis of these charges actually began in late 1995. They reached a critical stage in the winter of 1997 and the first month of 1998. The final act in this sordid drama took place on August 17, 1998, when the President of the United States appeared before a federal grand jury, raised his right hand to God and swore to tell the truth. Did he? We shall see.
This Committee has been asked to keep an open heart and mind and focus on the record. I completely agree. So, in the words of Al Smith, a good Democrat, let’s look at the record.
December 5-6, 1997
On Friday, December 5, 1997, Monica Lewinsky asked Betty Currie if the President could see her the next day, Saturday, but Ms. Currie said that the President was scheduled to meet with his lawyers all day. Later that Friday, Ms. Lewinsky spoke briefly to the President at a Christmas party. (Chart E)
That evening, Paula Jones’s attorneys faxed a list of potential witnesses to the President’s attorneys. The list included Monica Lewinsky. However, Ms. Lewinsky did not find out that her name was on the list until the President told her ten days later, on December 17. That delay is significant.Chart E
After her conversation with Ms. Currie and seeing the President at the Christmas party, Ms. Lewinsky drafted a letter to the President terminating their relationship. The next morning, Saturday, December 6, Ms. Lewinsky went to the White House to deliver the letter and some gifts for the President to Ms. Currie. When she arrived at the White House, Ms. Lewinsky spoke to several Secret Service officers, and one of them told her that the President was not with his lawyers, as she thought, but rather, he was meeting with Eleanor Mondale. Ms. Lewinsky called Ms. Currie from a pay phone, angrily exchanged words with her, and went home. After that phone call, Ms. Currie told the Secret Service watch commander that the President was so upset about the disclosure of his meeting with Ms. Mondale that he wanted somebody fired.
At 12:05 p.m., records demonstrate that Ms. Currie paged Bruce Lindsey with the message: “Call Betty ASAP.” Around that same time, according to Ms. Lewinsky, while she was back at her apartment, Ms. Lewinsky and the President spoke on the telephone. The President was very angry; he told Ms. Lewinsky that no one had ever treated him as poorly as she had. The President acknowledged to the grand jury that he was upset about Ms. Lewinsky’s behavior and considered it inappropriate. Nevertheless, in a sudden change of mood, he invited her to visit him at the White House that afternoon.
Monica Lewinsky arrived at the White House for the second time that day, and was cleared to enter at 12:52 p.m. Although, in Ms. Lewinsky’s words, the President was “very angry” with her during their recent telephone conversation, he was “sweet” and “very affectionate” during this visit. He also told her that he would talk to Vernon Jordan about her job situation.
The President also suddenly changed his attitude toward the Secret Service. Ms. Currie informed some officers that if they kept quiet about the Lewinsky incident, there would be no disciplinary action. According to the Secret Service watch commander, Captain Jeffrey Purdie, the President personally told him, “I hope you use your discretion” or “I hope I can count on your discretion.” Deputy Chief Charles O’Malley, Captain Purdie’s supervisor, testified that he knew of no other time in his fourteen years of service at the White House where the President raised a performance issue with a member of the Secret Service uniformed division. After his conversation with the President, Captain Purdie told a number of officers that they should not discuss the Lewinsky incident.
When the President was before the grand jury and questioned about his statements to the Secret Service regarding this incident, the President testified “I don’t remember what I said and I don’t remember to whom I said it.” When confronted with Captain Purdie’s testimony, the President testified, “I don’t remember anything I said to him in that regard. I have no recollection of that whatever.”
President Clinton testified before the grand jury that he learned that Ms. Lewinsky was on the Jones witness list that evening, Saturday, December 6, during a meeting with his lawyers. He stood by this answer in response to Request Number 16 submitted by this Committee. The meeting occurred around 5 p.m., after Ms. Lewinsky had left the White House. According to Bruce Lindsey, at the meeting, Bob Bennett had a copy of the Jones witness list faxed to Bennett the previous night. (Exhibit 15)
However, during his deposition, the President testified that he had heard about the witness list before he saw it. In other words, if the President testified truthfully in his deposition, then he knew about the witness list before the 5 p.m. meeting. It is valid to infer that hearing Ms. Lewinsky’s name on a witness list prompted the President’s sudden and otherwise unexplained change from “very angry” to “very affectionate” that Saturday afternoon. It is also reasonable to infer that it prompted him to give the unique instruction to a Secret Service watch commander to use “discretion” regarding Ms. Lewinsky’s visit to the White House, which the watch commander interpreted as an instruction to keep the incident under wraps.
THE JOB SEARCH
Now to go back a little, Monica Lewinsky had been looking for a good paying and high profile job in New York since the previous July. She wasn’t having much success despite the President’s promise to help. In early November, Betty Currie arranged a meeting with Vernon Jordan who was supposed to help.
On November 5, Monica met for 20 minutes with Mr. Jordan. No action followed, no job interviews were arranged and there were no further contacts with Mr. Jordan. It was obvious that Mr. Jordan made no effort to find a job for Ms. Lewinsky. Indeed, it was so unimportant to him that he “had no recollection of an early November meeting” and that finding a job for Ms. Lewinsky was not a priority. (Chart R) Nothing happened throughout the month of November, because Mr. Jordan was either gone or would not return Monica’s calls.
During the December 6 meeting with the President, she mentioned that she had not been able to get in touch with Mr. Jordan and that it did not seem he had done anything to help her. The President responded by stating, “Oh, I’ll talk to him. I’ll get on it,” or something to that effect. There was obviously still no urgency to help Monica. Mr. Jordan met the President the next day, December 7, but the meeting had nothing to do with Ms. Lewinsky.
The first activity calculated to help Monica actually procure employment took place on December 11. Mr. Jordan met with Ms. Lewinsky and gave her a list of contact names. The two also discussed the President. That meeting Mr. Jordan remembered. Vernon Jordan immediately placed calls to two prospective employers. Later in the afternoon, he even called the President to give him a report on his job search efforts. Clearly, Mr. Jordan and the President were now very interested in helping Monica find a good job in New York.
But why the sudden interest, why the total change in focus and effort? Nobody but Betty Currie really cared about helping Ms. Lewinsky throughout November, even after the President learned that her name was on the prospective witness list. Did something happen to move the job search from a low to a high priority on that day. Oh yes, something happened. On the morning of December 11, 1997, Judge Susan Webber Wright ordered that Paula Jones was entitled to information regarding any state or federal employee with whom the President had sexual relations or proposed or sought to have sexual relations. To keep Monica on the team was now of critical importance. Remember, they already knew that she was on the witness list, although nobody bothered to tell her.
December 17, 1997
That was remedied on December 17, 1997. Between 2:00 and 2:30 in the morning, Monica Lewinsky’s phone rang unexpectedly. It was the President of the United States. The President said that he wanted to tell Ms. Lewinsky two things: One was that Betty Currie’s brother had been killed in a car accident. Secondly, the President said that he “had some more bad news,” that he had seen the witness list for the Paula Jones case and her name was on it. The President told Ms. Lewinsky that seeing her name on the list “broke his heart.” He then told her that “if [she] were to be subpoenaed, [she] should contact Betty and let Betty know that [she] had received the subpoena.” Ms. Lewinsky asked what she should do if subpoenaed. The President responded: “Well, maybe you can sign an affidavit.” Both parties knew that the Affidavit would need to be false and misleading to accomplish the desired result.
Then, the President had a very pointed suggestion for Monica Lewinsky, a suggestion that left little room for compromise. He did not say specifically “go in and lie.” What he did say is “you know, you can always say you were coming to see Betty or that you were bringing me letters.”
In order to understand the significance of this statement, it is necessary to recall the “cover stories” that the President and Ms. Lewinsky had previously structured in order to deceive those who protected and worked with the President.
Ms. Lewinsky said she would carry papers when she visited the President. When she saw him, she would say: “Oh, gee, here are your letters,” wink, wink, wink and he would answer, “okay that’s good.” After Ms. Lewinsky left White House employment, she would return to the Oval Office under the guise of visiting Betty Currie, not the President.
Moreover, Monica promised him that she would always deny the sexual relationship and always protect him. The President would respond “that’s good” or similar language of encouragement.
So, when the President called Monica at 2:00 a.m. on December 17 to tell her she was on the witness list, he made sure to remind her of those prior “cover stories.” Ms. Lewinsky testified that when the President brought up the misleading story, she understood that the two would continue their pre-existing pattern of deception.
It became clear that the President had no intention of making his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky a public affair. And he would use lies, deceit, and deception to ensure that the truth would not be known.
It is interesting to note that when the President was asked by the grand jury whether he remembered calling Monica Lewinsky at 2:00 a.m., he responded: “No sir, I don’t. But it would – it is quite possible that that happened. . . ”
And when he was asked whether he encouraged Monica Lewinsky to continue the cover stories of “coming to see Betty” or “bringing the letters,” he answered: “I don’t remember exactly what I told her that night.”
Six days earlier, he had become aware that Paula Jones’ lawyers were now able to inquire about other women. Monica could file a false affidavit, but it might not work. It was absolutely essential that both parties told the same story. He knew that he would lie if asked about Ms. Lewinsky; and he wanted to make certain that she would lie also. Why else would the President of the United States call a twenty-four year old woman at 2:00 in the morning?
But the President had an additional problem. It was not enough that he (and Ms. Lewinsky) simply deny the relationship. You see, ladies and gentlemen, the evidence was beginning to accumulate. And it was the evidence that was driving the President to re-evaluate his defense. By this time, the evidence was establishing, through records and eyewitness accounts, that the President and Monica Lewinsky were spending a significant amount of time together in the Oval Office complex. It was no longer expedient simply to refer to Ms. Lewinsky as a “groupie”, “stalker”, “clutch”, or “home wrecker” as the White House first attempted to do. The unassailable facts were forcing the President to acknowledge the relationship. But at this point, he still had the opportunity to establish a non-sexual explanation for their meetings. You see, he still had this opportunity because his DNA had not yet been identified on Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.
Therefore, the President needed Monica Lewinsky to go along with the cover story in order to provide an innocent, intimate-free explanation for their frequent meetings. And that innocent explanation came in the form of “document deliveries” and “friendly chats with Betty Currie.”
It is also interesting to note that when the President was deposed on January 17, 1998, he used the exact same cover stories that had been utilized by Ms. Lewinsky. In doing so, he stayed consistent with any future Lewinsky testimony while still maintaining his defense in the Jones lawsuit.
In the President’s deposition, he was asked whether he was ever alone with Monica Lewinsky. He responded: “I don’t recall. . . She – it seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends. In that case, whatever time she would be in there, drop it off, exchange a few words and go, she was there.”
Additionally, you will notice that whenever questions were posed regarding Ms. Lewinsky’s frequent visits to the Oval Office, the President never hesitated to bring Betty Currie’s name into his answers:
And my recollection is that on a couple of occasions after [the pizza party meeting], she was there [in the oval office] but my secretary, Betty Currie, was there with her.
Q. When was the last time you spoke with Monica Lewinsky?
A. I’m trying to remember. Probably sometime before Christmas. She came by to see Betty sometime before Christmas. And she was there talking to her, and I stuck my head out, said hello to her.
Listen to the President’s deceptions for yourself:
[DEPOSITION TAPE 3]
Life was so much simpler before the dress was discovered.
December 19, 1997
The President’s and Ms. Lewinsky’s greatest fears were realized on December 19, 1997, when Monica was subpoenaed (Chart) to testify in a deposition on January 23, 1998 in the Jones case.
(Charts F and G) Extremely distraught, she immediately called the President’s best friend, Vernon Jordan. You will recall that Ms. Lewinsky testified that the President previously told her to call Betty Currie if she was subpoenaed. She called Mr. Jordan instead because Ms. Currie’s brother recently died and she did not want to bother her.
Mr. Jordan invited Lewinsky to his office and she arrived shortly before 5 p.m., still extremely distraught. Sometime around this time, Jordan called the President and told him Monica had been subpoenaed. (Exhibit 1) During the meeting with Ms. Lewinsky, which Jordan characterized as “disturbing,” she talked about her infatuation with the President. Mr. Jordan also decided that he would call a lawyer for her. That evening, Mr. Jordan met with the President and relayed his conversation with Ms. Lewinsky. The details are extremely important because the President, in his Deposition, did not recall that meeting.
Mr. Jordan told the President again that Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed, that he was concerned about her fascination with the President, and that Ms. Lewinsky had asked Mr. Jordan if he thought the President would leave the First Lady. He also asked the President if he had sexual relations with Lewinsky. Would not a reasonable person conclude that this is the type of conversation that would be locked in the President’s memory? The President was asked:
Q. Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?
A. I don’t think so.
Q. Did you ever talk with Monica Lewinsky about the possibility that she might be asked to testify in this case?
A. Bruce Lindsey, I think Bruce Lindsey told me that she was, I think maybe that’s the first person told me she was. I want to be as accurate as I can.
In the grand jury, the President first repeated his denial that Mr. Jordan told him Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed. Then, when given more specific facts, he admitted that he “knows now” that he spoke with Jordan about the subpoena on the night of December 19, but his “memory is not clear.” In an attempt to explain away his false deposition testimony, the President testified in the Grand Jury that he was trying to remember who told him first. But that was not the question. So his answer was again false and misleading. When one considers the nature of the conversation between the President and Mr. Jordan, the suggestion that it would be forgotten defies common sense.
December 28, 1997
December 28, 1997 is a crucial date, because the evidence shows that the President made false and misleading statements to the federal court, the federal grand jury and the Congress of the United States about the events on that date. (Chart J) It also is critical evidence that he obstructed justice.
The President testified that it was “possible” that he invited Ms. Lewinsky to the White House for this visit. He admitted that he “probably” gave Ms. Lewinsky the most gifts he had ever given her on that date, and that he had given her gifts on other occasions. (Chart D) Among the many gifts the President gave Ms. Lewinsky on December 28 was a bear that he said was a symbol of strength. Yet only two-and-a-half short weeks later, the President forgot that he had given any gifts to Monica.
[DEPOSITION TAPE #1]
Now, as an attorney, he knew that the law will not tolerate someone who says “I don’t recall” when that answer is unreasonable under the circumstances. He also knew that, under those circumstances, his answer in the deposition could not be believed. When asked in the grand jury why he was unable to remember, though he had given Ms. Lewinsky so many gifts only two-and-a-half weeks before the deposition, the President put forth a lame and obviously contrived explanation.
I think what I meant there was I don’t recall what they were, not that I don’t recall whether I had given them.
The President adopted that same answer in Response No. 42 to the Committee’s Request To Admit or Deny. (Exhibit 18) He was not asked in the deposition to identify the gifts. He was simply asked, “Have you ever” given gifts to Ms. Lewinsky. The law does not allow a witness to insert “unstated premises” or mental reservations into the question to make his answer technically true, if factually false. The essence of lying is in deception, not in words.
The President’s answer was false; he knew it then, and he knows it now. The evidence also proves that his explanation to the grand jury and to this Committee is also false. The President would have us believe that he was able to analyze questions as they were being asked, and pick up such things as verb tense in an attempt to make his statements at least literally true. But when he is asked a simple, straight forward question, suddenly he wants us to believe that he did not understand it. Neither his answer in the deposition nor his attempted explanation is reasonable or true.
While we’re on gifts. . . the President was asked in the deposition if Monica Lewinsky ever gave him gifts. He responded, “once or twice.”
[DEPOSITION TAPE #1]
This is also false testimony. He answered this question in his Response to the Committee by saying that he receives numerous gifts, and he did not focus on the precise number. (Exhibit 18) The law again does not support the President’s position. An answer that “baldly understates a numerical fact” in “response to a specific quantitative inquiry” can be deemed “technically true” but actually false. For example, a witness is testifying falsely if he says he went to the store five times when in fact he had gone fifty, even though technically he had gone five times also. So too, when the President answered once or twice in the face of evidence that Ms. Lewinsky was always bringing gifts, he was lying. (Chart C)
On December 28, one of the most blatant efforts to obstruct justice and conceal evidence occurred. Ms. Lewinsky testified that she discussed with the President the facts that she had been subpoenaed and that the subpoena called for her to produce gifts. She recalled telling the President that the subpoena requested a hat pin, and that caused her concern. The President told her that it “bothered” him, too. Ms. Lewinsky then suggested that she take the gifts somewhere, or give them to someone, maybe to Betty. The President answered: “I don’t know” or “Let me think about that.” (Chart L) Later that day, Ms. Lewinsky got a call from Ms. Currie, who said: “I understand you have something to give me” or “the President said you have something to give me.” Ms. Currie has an amazingly fuzzy memory about this incident, but says that “the best she can remember,” Ms Lewinsky called her. There is key evidence that Ms. Currie’s fuzzy recollection is wrong. Monica said that she thought Betty called from her cell phone. (Chart K, Exhibit 2) Well, look at this record. This is Betty’s cell phone record. It corroborates Monica Lewinsky and proves conclusively that Ms. Currie called Monica from her cell phone several hours after she had left the White House. Why did Betty Currie pick up the gifts from the Ms. Lewinsky? The facts strongly suggest the President directed her to do so.
That conclusion is buttressed by Ms. Currie’s actions. If it was Ms. Lewinsky that called her, did Currie ask — like anyone would — why in the world Ms. Lewinsky was giving her a box of gifts from the President? Did she tell the President of this strange request? No. Ms. Currie’s position was not to ask the reason why. She simply took the gifts and placed them under her bed without asking a single question.
Another note about this. The President stated in his Response to questions No. 24 and 25 from this Committee that he was not concerned about the gifts. (Exhibit 18) In fact, he said that he recalled telling Monica that if the Jones lawyers request gifts, she should turn them over. The President testified that he is “not sure” if he knew the subpoena asked for gifts. Why in the world would Monica and the President discuss turning over gifts to the Jones lawyers if Ms. Lewinsky had not told him that the subpoena asked for gifts? On the other hand, if he knew the subpoena requested gifts, why would he give Monica more gifts on December 28? This seems odd. But Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony reveals the answer. She said that she never questioned “that we were ever going to do anything but keep this private” and that meant to take “whatever appropriate steps needed to be taken” to keep it quiet. The only logical inference is that the gifts — including the bear symbolizing strength — were a tacit reminder to Ms. Lewinsky that they would deny the relationship — even in the face of a federal subpoena!
the President, at various times in his deposition, seriously misrepresented the nature of his meeting with Ms. Lewinsky on December 28. First, he was asked: “Did she tell you she had been served with a subpoena in this case?” The President answered flatly: “No. I don’t know she had been.”
He was also asked if he “ever talked to Monica Lewinsky about the possibility of her testifying.” “I’m not sure…,” he said. He then added that he may have joked to her that the Jones lawyers might subpoena every woman he has ever spoken to, and that “I don’t think we ever had more of a conversation than that about it….” Not only does Monica Lewinsky directly contradict this testimony, but the President also directly contradicted himself before the grand jury. Speaking of his December 28, 1997 meeting, he said that he “knew by then, of course, that she had gotten a subpoena” and that they had a “conversation about the possibility of her testifying.” Remember, he had this conversation about her testimony only two-and-a-half weeks before his deposition. Again, his version is not reasonable.
January 5 – 9, 1998
MONICA SIGNS THE AFFIDAVIT AND GETS A JOB
The President knew that Monica Lewinsky was going to make a false Affidavit. He was so certain of the content that when Monica asked if he wanted to see it, he told her no, that he had seen fifteen of them. He got his information in part from his attorneys, and from discussions with Ms. Lewinsky and Vernon Jordan generally about the content of the affidavit. Besides, he had suggested the Affidavit himself and he trusted Mr. Jordan to be certain the mission was accomplished.
In the afternoon of January 5, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky met with her lawyer, Mr. Carter, to discuss the Affidavit. The lawyer asked her some hard questions about how she got her job. After the meeting, she called Betty Currie, and said that she wanted to speak to the President before she signed anything. Lewinsky and the President discussed the issue of how she would answer under oath if asked about how she got her job at the Pentagon. The President told her: “Well, you could always say that the people in Legislative Affairs got it for you or helped you get it.” That, by the way, is another lie.
The President was also kept advised as to the contents of the affidavit by Vernon Jordan. On January 6, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky picked up a draft of the Affidavit from Mr. Carter’s office. She delivered a copy to Mr. Jordan’s office, because she wanted Mr. Jordan to look at the Affidavit in the belief that if Vernon Jordan gave his imprimatur, the President would also approve. (Chart M) Ms. Lewinsky and Mr. Jordan conferred about the contents, and agreed to delete a paragraph inserted by Mr. Carter which might open a line of questions concerning whether she had been alone with the President. (Exhibit 3) Contrast this to the testimony of Mr. Jordan, who said he had nothing to do with the details of the Affidavit. He admits, though, that he spoke with the President after conferring with Ms. Lewinsky about the changes made to her Affidavit.
The next day, January 7, Monica Lewinsky signed the false Affidavit. (Chart N; Exhibit 12) She showed the executed copy to Mr. Jordan that same day. (Exhibit 4) Why? So that Mr. Jordan could report to the President that it had been signed and another mission had been accomplished.
On January 8, 1998, Ms. Lewinsky had an interview arranged by Mr. Jordan with MacAndrews and Forbes in New York. The interview went poorly, so Ms. Lewinsky called Mr. Jordan and informed him. Mr. Jordan, who had done nothing from early November to mid December, then called MacAndrews and Forbes CEO, Ron Perelman, to “make things happen, if they could happen”. Mr. Jordan called Monica back and told her not to worry. That evening, Ms. Lewinsky was called by MacAndrews and Forbes and told that she would be given more interviews the next morning.
The next morning, Monica received her reward for signing the false Affidavit. After a series of interviews with MacAndrews and Forbes personnel, she was informally offered a job. When Monica called Mr. Jordan to tell him, he passed the good news on to Betty Currie. Tell the President, “Mission Accomplished.” Later, Mr. Jordan called the President and tells him personally. (Chart P)
After months of looking for a job — since July according to the President’s lawyers — Vernon Jordan just so happens to make the call to a CEO the day after the false Affidavit is signed. If you think it is mere coincidence, consider this. Mr. Perelman testified that Mr. Jordan had never called him before about a job recommendation. Jordan on the other hand, said that he called Mr. Perelman to recommend for hiring: 1) Former Mayor Dinkins of New York; 2) a very talented attorney from Akin Gump; 3) a Harvard business school graduate; and 4) Monica Lewinsky. Even if Mr. Perelman’s testimony is mistaken, Monica Lewinsky does not fit within the caliber of persons that would merit Mr. Jordan’s direct recommendation to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Mr. Jordan was well aware that people with whom Ms. Lewinsky worked at the White House did not like her and that she did not like her Pentagon job. Vernon Jordan was asked if at “any point during this process you wondered about her qualifications for employment?” He answered: “No, because that was not my judgment to make.” Yet when he called Mr. Perelman the day after she signed the Affidavit, he referred to Monica as a bright young girl who is “terrific.” Mr. Jordan said that she had been hounding him for a job and voicing unrealistic expectations concerning positions and salary. Moreover, she narrated a disturbing story about the President leaving the First Lady, and how the President was not spending enough time with her? Yet, none of that gave Mr. Jordan pause in making the recommendation. Do people like Vernon Jordan go to the wall for marginal employees? They do not unless there is a compelling reason. The compelling reason was that the President told him this was a top priority, especially after Monica was subpoenaed.
THE FILING OF THE FALSE AFFIDAVIT
Just how important was Monica Lewinsky’s false Affidavit to the President’s deposition? It enabled Mr. Clinton, through his attorneys, to assert at his January 17, 1998 deposition ” . . . there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form with President Clinton . . . .” When questioned by his own attorney in the deposition, the President stated specifically that the infamous paragraph 8 of Monica’s Affidavit was “absolutely true.” The President later affirmed the truth of that statement when testifying before the grand jury. Paragraph 8 of Ms. Lewinsky’s Affidavit states (Chart N):
I have never had a sexual relationship with the President, he did not propose that we have a sexual relationship, he did not offer me employment or other benefits in exchange for a sexual relationship, he did not deny me employment or other benefits for rejecting a sexual relationship.
Recall that Monica Lewinsky reviewed the draft Affidavit on January 6, and signed it on January 7 after deleting a reference to being alone with the President. She showed a copy of the signed Affidavit to Vernon Jordan, who called the President and told him that she signed it.
Getting the Affidavit signed was only half the battle. To have its full effect, it had to be filed with the Court and provided to the President’s attorneys in time for his deposition on January 17. On January 14, the President’s lawyers called Monica’s lawyer and left a message, presumably to find out if he had filed the Affidavit with the Court.(Chart O) On January 15, the President’s attorneys called her attorney twice. When they finally reached him, they requested a copy of the Affidavit, and asked him, “Are we still on time?” Ms. Lewinsky’s lawyer faxed a copy on January 15. The President’s counsel was aware of its contents, and as we will see, used it powerfully in the deposition.
Monica’s lawyer called the Court in Arkansas twice on January 15 to ensure that the Affidavit could be filed on Saturday, January 17. (Exhibit 5) He finished the Motion to Quash Monica’s deposition in the early morning hours of January 16, and mailed it to the Court with the false Affidavit attached, for Saturday delivery. The President’s lawyers called him again on January 16, telling him, “You’ll know what it’s about.” Obviously, the President needed that Affidavit to be filed with the Court to support his plans to mislead Ms. Jones’ attorneys in the deposition.
On January 15, Michael Isikoff of Newsweek called Betty Currie and asked her about Monica sending gifts to her by courier. Ms. Currie then called Monica and told her about it. The President was out of town, so later, Betty Currie called Monica back, and asked for a ride to Mr. Jordan. Mr. Jordan advises her to speak with Bruce Lindsey and Mike McCurry. Ms. Currie testified that she spoke immediately to Mr. Lindsey about Isikoff’s call.
CLINTON AND BENNETT AT DEPOSITION
The President also provided false and misleading testimony in the Grand Jury when he was asked about Mr. Bennett’s representation to the Jones Court that the President is “fully aware” that Lewinsky filed an affidavit saying that “there is absolutely no sex of any kind in any manner, shape or form, with President Clinton….” Mr. Clinton was asked about this representation made by his lawyer in his presence, and whether he felt obligated to inform the federal judge of the true facts. The President answered that he was “not even sure I paid much attention to what [Mr. Bennett] was saying.” When pressed further, he said that he didn’t believe he “even focused on what Mr. Bennett said in the exact words he did until I started reading this transcript carefully for this hearing. That moment, the whole argument just passed me by.”
This last statement by the President is critical. First, he had planned his answer to the grand jurors. Of course he did. He spent literally days with his attorney, going over that deposition with a fine tooth comb and crafting answers in his own mind that wouldn’t be too obviously false. Second, he knew that he could only avoid an admission that he allowed a false Affidavit to be filed by convincing the grand jury that he hadn’t been paying attention. Take a look at this tape and you decide 1) whether he was paying attention and 2) whether the President of the United States, a former Rhodes Scholar, could not follow his lawyer’s argument.
[DEPOSITION TAPE #5]
Do you think for one moment, after watching that tape, that the President was not paying attention? They were talking about Monica Lewinsky, at the time the most dangerous person in the President’s life. If the false Affidavit worked and Ms. Jones’ lawyers were not permitted to question him about her, he was home free. Can anyone rationally argue, then, that the President wasn’t vitally interested in what Mr. Bennett was saying? Nonetheless, when he was asked in the grand jury whether Mr. Bennett’s statement was false, he still was unable to tell the truth — even before a federal grand jury. He answered with the now famous sentence, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
That single declaration reveals more about the character of the President than perhaps anything else in this record. It points out his attitude and his conscious indifference and complete disregard for the concept of the truth. He picks out a single word and weaves from it a deceitful answer. “Is” doesn’t mean “was” or “will be”, so I can answer no. He also invents convoluted definitions of words or phrases in his own crafty mind. Of course, he will never seek to clarify a question, because that may trap him into a straight answer.
Can you imagine dealing with such a person in any important matter? You would never know his secret mental reservations or the unspoken redefinition of words. Even if you thought you had solved the enigma, it wouldn’t matter – – he would just change the meaning to suit his purpose.
But the President reinforced Monica’s lie. Mr. Bennett read to him the paragraph in Ms. Lewinsky’s Affidavit where she denied a sexual relationship with the President.
[DEPOSITION TAPE #8]
Question: “Is that a true and accurate statement as far as you know it?”
The President answered: “That is absolutely true.”
When asked about this in the grand jury and when questioned about it by this Committee, the President said that if Ms. Lewinsky believed it to be true, then it was a true statement. (Exhibit 18)
Well let’s see: First, Monica admitted to the grand jury that the paragraph was false. Second, the President was not asked about Ms. Lewinsky’s belief. He was asked quite clearly and directly by his own lawyer whether the statement was true. His answer was unequivocally, Yes. Even by the President’s own tortured reading of the definition of sexual relations, that statement is false. To use the President’s own definition, Lewinsky touched “one of the enumerated body parts.” (Exhibit 13) Therefore she had sexual relations with him even as he defined it!
Lastly, the President wants us to believe that according to his reading of the deposition definition, he did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky. The definition was an afterthought conceived while preparing for his grand jury testimony. His explanation to the grand jury, then, was also false and misleading.
The President does not explain his denial of an affair or a sexual affair – he can’t. Neither can he avoid his unequivocal denial in the answers to interrogatories in the Jones case. These interrogatories were answered before any narrow definition of sexual relations had been developed. But here, listen for yourself:
[DEPOSITION TAPE 4]
By the time the President concluded his deposition, he knew that someone was talking about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. He knew that the only person who could be talking was Ms. Lewinsky herself. The cover story that he and Ms. Lewinsky created, and that he used liberally himself during the deposition, was now in jeopardy. It became imperative that he not only contact Ms. Lewinsky, but that he obtain corroboration from his trusted secretary, Ms. Currie. (Chart S) At around 7 p.m. on the night of the deposition, the President called Ms. Currie and asked that she come in the following day, Sunday.
(Exhibit 6) Ms. Currie could not recall the President ever before calling her that late at home on a Saturday night.(Chart S) Sometime in the early morning hours of January 18, 1998, the President learned of the Drudge Report about Ms. Lewinsky released earlier that day.(Exhibit 14)
As the charts indicate, between 11:49 a.m. and 2:55 p.m., there were three phone calls between Mr. Jordan and the President. (Exhibit 7) At about 5 p.m., Ms. Currie met with the President. The President said that he had just been deposed and that the attorneys asked several questions about Monica Lewinsky. This, incidently, was a violation of Judge Wright’s gag order prohibiting any discussions about the deposition testimony. He then made a series of statements to Ms. Currie: (Chart T)
(1) I was never really alone with Monica, right?
(2) You were always there when Monica was there, right?
(3) Monica came on to me, and I never touched her, right?
(4) You could see and hear everything, right?
(5) She wanted to have sex with me, and I cannot do that.
During Betty Currie’s grand jury testimony, she was asked whether she believed that the President wished her to agree with the statement:
Q. Would it be fair to say, then – based on the way he stated [these five points] and the demeanor that he was using at the time that he stated it to you – that he wished you to agree with that statement?
A. I can’t speak for him, but –
Q. How did you take it? Because you told us at these [previous] meetings in the last several days that that is how you took it.
Q. And you’re nodding you head, “yes”, is that correct?
A. That’s correct.
Q. Okay, with regard to the statement that the President made to you, “You remember I was never really alone with Monica, right, was that also a statement that, as far as you took, that he wished you to agree with that?
When the President testified in the August 17, 1998 Grand Jury, he was questioned about his intentions when he made those five statements to Ms. Currie in his office on that Sunday afternoon. The President stated: . . . I thought we were going to be deluged by the press comments. And I was trying to refresh my memory about what the facts were.
And what I wanted to establish was that Betty was there at all other times in the complex, and I wanted to know what Betty’s memory was about what she heard, what she could hear. And what I did not know was – I did not know that. And I was trying to figure out in a hurry because I knew something was up.
So, I was not trying to get Betty Currie to say something that was untruthful. I was trying to get as much information as quickly as I could.
Though Ms. Currie would later intimate that she did not necessarily feel pressured by the President, she did state that she felt the President was seeking her agreement (or disagreement) with those statements.
Logic tells us that the President’s plea that he was just trying to refresh his memory is contrived and false.
First consider the President’s options after he left his deposition:
(1) He could abide by Judge Wright’s Order to remain silent and not divulge any details of his deposition;
(2) He could choose to defy Judge Wright’s Order, and call Betty on the phone and asked her open ended questions (i.e., “What do you remember about …?”); or
(3) He could call Ms. Currie and arrange a Sunday afternoon meeting, at a time when the fewest distractions exist and the White House staff is at a minimum. The President chose the third option.
He made sure that this was a face-to-face meeting, not an impersonal telephone call. He made sure that no one else was present when he spoke to her. He made sure that he had the meeting in his office, an area where he was comfortable and could utilize its power and prestige to influence future testimony.
Once these controls were established, the President made short, clear, understandable, declarative statements telling Ms. Currie what his testimony was. He was not interested in what she knew. Why? Because he did not want to be contradicted by his personal secretary. The only way to ensure that was by telling her what to say, not asking her what she remembered. You do not refresh someone’s memory by telling that person what he or she remembers. And you certainly do not make declarative statements to someone regarding factual scenarios of which the listener was unaware.
Betty Currie could not possibly have any personal knowledge of the facts that the President was asking. How could she know if they were ever alone, if they were, Ms. Currie wasn’t there. So too, how would she know that the President never touched Monica? No, this wasn’t any attempt by the President to refresh his recollection, it was witness tampering pure and simple.
The President essentially admitted to making these statements when he knew they were not true. Consequently, he had painted himself into a legal corner. Understanding the seriousness of the President “coaching” Ms. Currie, his attorneys have argued that those statements to her could not constitute obstruction because she had not been subpoenaed, and the President did not know that she was a potential witness at the time. This argument is refuted by both the law and the facts.
The United States Court of Appeals rejected this argument, and stated, “[A] person may be convicted of obstructing justice if he urges or persuades a prospective witness to give false testimony. Neither must the target be scheduled to testify at the time of the offense, nor must he or she actually give testimony at a later time.”
As discussed, the President and Ms. Lewinsky concocted a cover story that brought Ms. Currie into the fray as a corroborating witness. True to this scheme, the President, as previously noted, invoked Ms. Currie’s name frequently as a witness who could corroborate his false and misleading testimony about the Lewinsky affair. For example, during his deposition, when asked whether he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky, the President said that he was not alone with her or that Betty Currie was there with Monica. When asked about the last time he saw Ms. Lewinsky, which was December 28, 1997, he falsely testified that he only recalled that she was there to see Betty. He also told the Jones lawyers to “ask Betty” whether Lewinsky was alone with him or with Betty in the White House between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Asked whether Ms. Lewinsky sent packages to him, he stated that Betty handled packages for him. Asked whether he may have assisted in any way with Ms. Lewinsky’s job search, he stated that he thought Betty suggested Vernon Jordan talk to Ms. Lewinsky, and that Monica asked Betty to ask someone to talk to Ambassador Richardson about a job at the U.N.
Of course Ms. Currie was a prospective witness, and the President clearly wanted her to be deposed as a witness, as his “ask Betty” testimony demonstrates. The President claims that he called Ms. Currie into work on a Sunday night only to find out what she knew. But the President knew the truth about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, and if he had told the truth during his deposition the day before, then he would have no reason to worry about what Ms. Currie knew. More importantly, the President’s demeanor, Ms. Currie’s reaction to his demeanor and the suggested lies clearly prove that the President was not merely interviewing Ms. Currie. Rather, he was looking for corroboration for his false cover-up, and that is why he coached her.
Very soon after his Sunday meeting with Ms. Currie, at 5:12 p.m., the flurry of telephone calls began looking for Monica Lewinsky. (Chart S) Between 5:12 p.m. and 8:28 p.m., Ms. Currie paged Monica four times. “Kay” is a reference to a code name Ms. Lewinsky and Ms. Currie created when contacting one another. At 11:02 p.m., the President calls Ms. Currie at home to ask if she has reached Lewinsky.
The following morning, January 19, Currie continued to work diligently on behalf of the President. Between 7:02 a.m. and 8:41 a.m., she paged Ms. Lewinsky another five times. (Chart S)(Exhibit 8) After the 8:41 page, Betty called the President at 8:43 a.m. and said that she was unable to reach Monica. One minute later, at 8:44 a.m., she again paged Monica. This time Ms. Currie’s page stated: “Family Emergency,” apparently in an attempt to alarm Monica into calling back. That may have been the President’s idea, since Betty had just spoken with him? The President was obviously quite concerned because he called Betty Currie only six minutes later, at 8:50 a.m. Immediately thereafter, at 8:51 a.m., Currie tries a different tact, sending the message: “Good news.” Another one of the President’s idea? If bad news does not get her to call, try good news. Ms. Currie said that she was trying to encourage Ms. Lewinsky to call, but there was no sense of “urgency.” Ms. Currie’s recollection of why she was calling was again amazingly fuzzy. She said at one point that she believes the President asked her to call Ms. Lewinsky, and she thought she was calling just to tell her that her name came up in the deposition. Monica Lewinsky had been subpoenaed; of course her name came up in the deposition. There was obviously another and more important reason the President needed to get in touch with her.
At 8:56 a.m., the President telephoned Vernon Jordan, who then joined in the activity. Over a course of twenty-four minutes, from 10:29 to 10:53 a.m., Mr. Jordan called the White House three times, paged Ms. Lewinsky, and called Ms. Lewinsky’s attorney, Frank Carter. Between 10:53 a.m. and 4:54 p.m., there are continued calls between Mr. Jordan, Ms. Lewinsky’s attorney and individuals at the White House.
Later that afternoon, things really went downhill for the President. At 4:54 p.m., Mr. Jordan called Mr. Carter. Mr. Carter relayed that he had been told he no longer represented Ms. Lewinsky. Mr. Jordan then made feverish attempts to reach the President or someone at the White House to tell them the bad news, as represented by the six calls between 4:58 p.m. and 5:22 p.m. Vernon Jordan said that he tried to relay this information to the White House because “[t]he President asked me to get Monica Lewinsky a job,” and he thought it was “information that they ought to have.” (Chart Q) Mr. Jordan then called Mr. Carter back at 5:14 p.m. to “go over” what they had already talked about. Mr. Jordan finally reaches the President at 5:56 p.m., and tells him that Mr. Carter had been fired.
Why all this activity? It shows how important it was for the President of the United States to find Monica Lewinsky to learn to whom she was talking. Betty Currie was in charge of contacting Monica. The President had just completed a deposition in which he provided false and misleading testimony about his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. She was a co-conspirator in hiding this relationship from the Jones attorneys, and he was losing control over her. The President never got complete control over her again, and that is why we are here today.
GRAND JURY TESTIMONY
On August 17, the last act of the tragedy took place. After six scorned invitations, the President of the United States appeared before a grand jury of his fellow citizens and took an oath to tell the truth. We all know what happened. The President equivocated and engaged in legalistic fencing, but he also lied. During the course of this presentation, I have discussed several of those lies specifically. Actually, the entire performance, and it was a performance, was calculated to mislead and deceive the grand jury and eventually the American people. The tone was set at the very beginning. Judge Starr testified that in a grand jury a witness can tell the truth, lie or assert his privileges against self incrimination. (Chart Y) President Clinton was given a fourth choice. The President was permitted to read a statement. Here it is. (Chart Z)
That statement itself is false in many particulars.
President Clinton claims that he engaged in wrong conduct with Ms. Lewinsky “on certain occasions in early 1996 and once in 1997.” Notice he didn’t mention 1995. There was a reason. On the three “occasions” in 1995, Monica was a twenty-one year old intern. As for being alone on “certain occasions,” the President was alone with Monica more than twenty times at least. (Chart A) The President also told the jurors that he “also had occasional telephone conversations with Ms. Lewinsky that included sexual banter.” Occasional sounds like once every four months or so, doesn’t it? Actually, the two had at least fifty-five phone conversations, many in the middle of the night and in seventeen of these calls, Monica and the President of the United States engaged in phone sex. (Chart B) I am not going into any details, but if what happened on these phone calls is banter, then Buckingham Palace is a house.
Here we are again with the President carefully crafting his statements to give the appearance of being candid, when actually his intent was the opposite. In addition, throughout the testimony whenever the President was asked a specific question that could not be answered directly without either admitting the truth or giving an easily provable false answer, he said, “I rely on my statement.” Nineteen times he relied on this false and misleading statement; nineteen times, then, he repeated those lies. Let’s watch one of them:
[GRAND JURY TAPE #2]
You will recall when Judge Starr was testifying he made reference to six occasions on which, faced with a choice, the President chose deception. Make it seven.
In an effort to avoid unnecessary work and to bring this inquiry to an expeditious end, this Committee submitted to the President eighty-one requests to admit or deny specific facts relevant to this investigation. (Exhibit 18) Although, for the most part, the questions could have been answered with a simple “admit” or “deny”, the President elected to follow the pattern of selective memory, reference to other testimony, blatant untruths, artful distortions, outright lies and half truths – the blackest lie of all. When he did answer, he engaged in legalistic hair splitting in an obvious attempt to skirt the whole truth and to deceive this Committee.
Thus, on at least twenty-three questions, the President professed a lack of memory. This from a man who is renowned for his remarkable memory, for his amazing ability to recall details.
In at least fifteen answers, the President merely referred to “White House Records.” He also referred to his own prior testimony and that of others. He answered several of the requests by merely restating the same deceptive answers that he gave to the grand jury. We have pointed out several false statements in this summation.
The answers are a gratuitous insult to your intelligence and common sense. The President, then, has lied under oath in a civil deposition and lied under oath in a criminal grand jury. He lied to the people, he lied to his Cabinet, he lied to his top aides and now he has lied under oath to the Congress of the United States. There is no one left to lie to.
In addition, the half-truths, legalistic parsings, evasive and misleading answers were obviously calculated to obstruct the efforts of this Committee. They have had the effect of seriously hampering this Committee’s ability to inquire and to ascertain the truth. The President has, therefore, added obstruction of an inquiry and an investigation before the Legislative Branch to his obstructions of justice before the Judicial Branch of our constitutional system of government.
ABUSE OF POWER
As soon as Paula Jones filed her lawsuit, President Clinton, rather than confront the charges, tried to get it dismissed. To do so he used the power and dignity of the Office of President in an attempt to deny Ms. Jones her day in Court. He argued that, as President, he is immune from a lawsuit during his tenure in office. That is, that the President as president, is immune from the civil law of the land. As I recall a similar position was taken by King John just before the gathering at Runnymede when Magna Carta was signed. More interesting is the rationale given by the President for that immunity:
The broad public and constitutional interests that would be placed at risk by litigating such claims against an incumbent President far outweigh the asserted private interest of a plaintiff who seeks civil damages for an alleged past injury.
There you have it. Sorry, Ms. Jones, because William Jefferson Clinton occupies the Office of President, your lawsuit against him, not as President, but personally must be set aside. The President’s lawyers are referring to the most basic civil rights of an American citizen to due process of law and to the equal protection of the laws; those same rights that President Clinton had taken an oath to preserve and protect. Or is it that some people are more equal than others? Here is a clear example of the President abusing the power and majesty of his office to obtain a purely personal advantage over Ms. Jones and avoid having to pay damages. The case was, in fact, stalled for several years until the Supreme Court ruled. If there is one statement that might qualify as the motto of this Presidency, it is that contained in one of the briefs filed on behalf of Mr. Clinton: “In a very real and significant way, the objectives of William J. Clinton, the person, and his Administration are one and the same.”
The President was just getting started: He employed the power and prestige of his office and of his cabinet officers to mislead and to lie to the American people about the Jones case and the Monica Lewinsky matter. But more: throughout the grand jury investigation and various other investigations, the President has tried to extend the relatively narrow bounds of presidential privilege to unlimited, if not bizarre lengths. One witness, Bruce Lindsey, asserted executive privilege before the grand jury even after the claim was dropped by the President. I guess he didn’t get the message. The plan was to delay, obstruct, and detour the investigations not to protect the presidency, but to protect the President personally. It is bad enough that the Office was abused for that purpose; but the infinite harm done to the Presidency by those frivolous and dilatory tactics is irreparable. With a single exception, every claim of immunity and privilege has been rejected by the courts. Future presidents will be forced to operate within these strictures because one person assumed that the Office put him above the law.
Furthermore, the power and prestige of the Office of President was marshaled to destroy the character and reputation of Monica Lewinsky, a young woman that had been ill used by the President. As soon as her name surfaced, the campaign began to muzzle any possible testimony, and to attack the credibility of witnesses, in a concerted effort to insulate the President from the lawsuit of one female citizen of Arkansas. It almost worked.
When the President testified at his deposition that he had no sexual relations, sexual affair or the like with Monica Lewinsky, he felt secure. Monica Lewinsky, the only other witness was in the bag. She had furnished a false Affidavit also denying everything. Later, when he realized from the January 18, 1998 Drudge Report, that there were taped conversations between Ms. Lewinsky and Linda Tripp, he had to come up with a new story, and he did. In addition, he recounted that story to White House aides who passed it on to the grand jury.
On Wednesday, January 21, 1998, the Washington Post published a story entitled “Clinton Accused of Urging Aide to Lie; Starr Probes Whether President Told Woman to Deny Alleged Affair to Jones’ Lawyers.” The White House learned the substance of the Post story on the evening of January 20, 1998.
After the President learned of the existence of that story, he made a series of telephone calls.
At 12:08 a.m. he called his attorney, Mr. Bennett, and they had a conversation. The next morning, Mr. Bennett was quoted in the Post stating:
“The President adamantly denies he ever had a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky and she has confirmed the truth of that.” He added, “This story seems ridiculous and I frankly smell a rat.”
After that conversation, the President had a half hour conversation with White House counsel, Bruce Lindsey.
At 1:16 a.m., the President called Betty Currie and spoke to her for 20 minutes.
He then called Bruce Lindsey again.
At 6:30 a.m. the President called Vernon Jordan.
After that, the President again conversed with Bruce Lindsey.
This flurry of activity was a prelude to the stories which the President would soon inflict upon top White House aides and advisors.
II. The President’s Statements to Staff
A. Erskine Bowles
On the morning of January 21, 1998, the President met with White House Chief of Staff, Erskine Bowles and his two deputies, John Podesta and Sylvia Matthews.
Erskine Bowles recalled entering the President’s office at 9:00 a.m. that morning. He then recounts the President’s immediate words as he and two others entered the Oval Office:
And he looked up at us and he said the same thing he said to the American people.
He said, “I want you to know I did not have sexual relationships with this woman, Monica Lewinsky. I did not ask anybody to lie. And when the facts came out, you’ll understand.”
After the President made that blanket denial, Mr. Bowles responded:
I said, “Mr. President, I don’t know what the facts are. I don’t know if they’re good, bad, or indifferent. But whatever they are, you ought to get them out. And you ought to get them out right now.”
When counsel asked whether the President responded to Bowles’ suggestion that he tell the truth, Bowles responded:
I don’t think he made any response, but he didn’t disagree with me.
B. John Podesta
Deputy Chief John Podesta also recalled a meeting with the President on the morning of January 21, 1998. He testified before the grand jury as to what occurred in the Oval Office that morning (Chart V):
A. And we started off meeting – we didn’t – I don’t think we said anything. And I think the President directed this specifically to Mr. Bowles. He said, “Erskine, I want you to know that this story is not true.”
Q. What else did he say?
A. He said that – that he had not had a sexual relationship with her, and that he never asked anybody to lie.
Two days later on January 23, 1998, Mr. Podesta had another discussion with the President:
I asked him how he was doing, and he said he was working on this draft and he said to me that he never had sex with her, and that – and that he never asked – you know, he repeated the denial, but he was extremely explicit in saying he never had sex with her.
Then Podesta testified as follows:
Q. Okay. Not explicit, in the sense the he got more specific than sex, than the word “sex.”
A. Yes, he was more specific than that.
Q. Okay, share that with us.
A. Well, I think he said – he said that – there was some spate. Of, you know, what sex acts were counted, and he said that he had never had sex with her in any way whatsoever –
A. – That they had not had oral sex.
C. Sidney Blumenthal
Later in the day on January 21, 1998, the President called Sydney Blumenthal to his office. It is interesting to note how the President’s lies become more elaborate and pronounced when he has time to concoct his newest line of defense. Remember that when the President spoke to Mr. Bowles and Mr. Podesta, he simply denied the story. But, by the time he spoke to Mr. Blumenthal, the President has added three new angles to his defense strategy: (1) he now portrays Monica Lewinsky as the aggressor; (2) he launches an attack on her reputation by portraying her as a “stalker”; and (3) he presents himself as the innocent victim being attacked by the forces of evil.
Note well this recollection by Mr. Blumenthal in his June 4, 1998 testimony: (Chart U)
And it was at this point that he gave his account of what had happened to me and he said that Monica – and it came very fast. He said, “Monica Lewinsky came at me and made a sexual demand on me.” He rebuffed her. He said, “I’ve gone down that road before, I’ve caused pain for a lot of people and I’m not going to do that again.”
She threatened him. She said that she would tell people they’d had an affair, that she was known as the stalker among her peers, and that she hated it and if she had an affair or said she had an affair then she wouldn’t be the stalker anymore.
And then consider what the President told Mr. Blumenthal moments later:
And he said, “I feel like a character in a novel. I feel like somebody who is surrounded by an oppressive force that is creating a lie about me and I can’t get the truth out. I feel like the character in the novel Darkness at Noon.”
And I said to him, “When this happened with Monica Lewinsky, were you alone?” He said, “Well, I was within eyesight or earshot of someone.
At one point, Mr. Blumenthal is asked by the grand jury to describe the President’s manner and demeanor during the exchange.
Q. In response to my question how you responded to the President’s story about a threat or discussion about a threat from Ms. Lewinsky, you mentioned you didn’t recall specifically. Do you recall generally the nature of your response to the President?
A. It was generally sympathetic to the President. And I certainly believed his story. It was a very heartfelt story, he was pouring out his heart, and I believed him.
When Betty Currie testified before the grand jury, she could not recall whether she had another one-on-one discussion with the President on Tuesday, January 20 or Wednesday, January 21. But she did state that on one of those days, the President summoned her back to his office. At that time, the President recapped their now-infamous Sunday afternoon post-deposition discussion in the Oval Office. I believe you all remember that meeting. That’s when the President made a series of statements to Ms. Currie, some of which Ms. Currie could not possibly have known the answers. (e.g. “Monica came on to me and I never touched her, right?”)
When he spoke to her on January 20 or 21, he spoke in the same tone and demeanor that he used in his January 18 Sunday session.
Ms. Currie stated that the President may have mentioned that she might be asked about Monica Lewinsky.
It is abundantly clear that the President’s assertions to staff were designed for dissemination to the American people. But it is equally important to understand that the President intended his aides to relate that false story to investigators and grand jurors alike. We know that this is true for the following reasons: the Special Division had recently appointed the Office of Independent Counsel to investigate the Monica Lewinsky matter; the President realized that Jones’ attorneys and investigators were investigating this matter; the Washington Post journalists and investigators were exposing the details of the Lewinsky affair; and, an investigation relating to perjury charges based on Presidential activities in the Oval Office would certainly lead to interviews with West Wing employees and high level staffers. Because the President would not appear before the grand jury, his version of events would be supplied by those staffers to whom he had lied. The President actually acknowledged that he knew his aides might be called before the grand jury. In addition, Mr. Podesta testified that he knew that he was likely to be a witness in the ongoing grand jury criminal investigation. He said that he was “sensitive about not exchanging information because I knew I was a potential witness.” He also recalled that the President volunteered to provide information about Ms. Lewinsky to him even though Mr. Podesta had not asked for these details.
In other words, the President’s lies and deceptions to his White House aides, coupled with his steadfast refusal to testify had the effect of presenting a false account of events to investigators and grand jurors. The President’s aides believed the President when he told them his contrived account. The aides’ eventual testimony provided the President’s calculated falsehoods to the grand jury which in turn, gave the jurors an inaccurate and misleading set of facts upon which to base any decisions.
IV. WIN, WIN, WIN
President Clinton also implemented a win-at-all-costs strategy. We know this because of testimony presented by Dick Morris to the federal grand jury.
Mr. Morris, a former presidential advisor, testified that on January 21, 1998, he met President Clinton and they discussed the turbulent events of the day. The President again denied the accusations against him. After further discussions, they decided to have an overnight poll taken to determine if the American people would forgive the President for adultery, perjury, and obstruction of justice. When Mr. Morris received the results, he called the President:
And I said, “They’re just too shocked by this. It’s just too new, it’s too raw.” And I said, “And the problem is they’re willing to forgive you for adultery, but not for perjury or obstruction of justice or the various other things.”
Morris recalls the following exchange:
Morris: And I said, “They’re just not ready for it.” Meaning the voters.
President: Well, we just have to win, then.
The President, of course, cannot recall this statement.
Worst of all, in order to win, it was necessary to convince the public, and hopefully the grand jurors who read the newspapers, that Monica Lewinsky was unworthy of belief. If the account given by Monica to Linda Tripp was believed, then there would emerge a tawdry affair in and near the Oval Office. Moreover, the President’s own perjury and that of Monica Lewinsky would surface. How do you do this? Congressman Graham showed you. You employ the full power and credibility of the White House and its press corps to destroy the witness. Thus on January 19, 1998:
Inside the White House, the debate goes on about the best way to destroy That Woman, as President Bill Clinton called Monica Lewinsky. Should they paint her as a friendly fantasist or a malicious stalker?
“That poor child has serious emotional problems,” Rep. Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, said Tuesday night before the State of the Union. “She’s fantasizing. And I haven’t heard that she played with a full deck in her other experiences.”
Listen to Gene Lyons, an Arkansas columnist on January 30:
But it’s also very easy to take a mirror’s eye view of this thing, look at this thing from a completely different direction and take the same evidence and posit a totally innocent relationship in which the president was, in a sense, the victim of someone rather like the woman who followed David Letterman around.
From another “source” on February 1:
Monica had become known at the White House, says one source, as “the stalker.”
And on February 4:
The media have reported that sources describe Lewinsky as “infatuated” with the president, “star struck” and even “a stalker.”
Listen to this on January 31:
One White House aide called reporters to offer information about Monica Lewinsky’s past, her weight problems and what the aide said was her nickname – “The Stalker.”
Junior staff members, speaking on the condition that they not be identified, said she was known as a flirt, wore her skirts too short, and was “A little bit weird.”
Little by little, ever since allegations of an affair between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Lewinsky surfaced 10 days ago, White House sources have waged a behind-the-scenes campaign to portray her as an untrustworthy climber obsessed with the President.
Just hours after the story broke, one White House source made unsolicited calls offering that Lewinsky was the “troubled” product of divorced parents and may have been following the footsteps of her mother, who wrote a tell-all book about the private lives of three famous opera singers.
One story had Lewinsky following former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos to Starbucks. After observing what kind of coffee he ordered, she showed up the next day at his secretary’s desk with a cup of the same coffee to “surprise him.”
Sound familiar? It ought to because that is the exact tactic used to destroy Paula Jones. The difference is that these evil rumors were emanating from the White House, the Bastion of the free world. And to protect one man from being forced to answer for his deportment in the highest office in the land.
Now let’s turn to President Clinton’s Grand Jury appearance.
On August 16, 1998, the President’s personal attorney, David Kendall provided the following statement:
There is apparently an enormous amount of groundless speculation about the President’s testimony tomorrow. The truth is the truth. Period. And that’s how the President will testify.
On August 17, 1998, the President testified. He admitted to the grand jury that, after the allegations were publicly reported, that he made “misleading” statements to particular aides whom he knew would likely be called to testify before the Grand Jury:
Q. Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky to the following people: Harry Thomasson, Erskine Bowles, Harold Ickes, Mr. Podesta, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Jordan, Ms. Betty Currie? Do you recall denying any sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky to those individuals?
WJC. I recall telling a number of those people that I didn’t have, either I didn’t have an affair with Monica Lewinsky or didn’t have sex with her. And I believe, sir, that – you’ll have to ask them what they thought. But I was using those terms in the normal way people use them. You’ll have to ask them what they thought I was saying.
Q. If they testified that you denied sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, or if they told us that you denied that, do you have any reason to doubt them, in the days after the story broke; do you have any reason to doubt them?
The President then was specifically asked whether he knew that his aides were likely to be called before the grand jury.
Q. It may have been misleading, sir, and you knew though, after January21st when the Post article broke and said that Judge Starr was looking into this, you knew that they might be witnesses. You knew that they might be called into a grand jury, didn’t you?
WJC. That’s right. I think I was quite careful what I said after that. I may have said something to all these people to that effect, but I’ll also – whenever anybody asked me any details, I said, look, I don’t want you to be a witness or I turn you into a witness or give you information that would get you in trouble. I just wouldn’t talk. I, by and large, didn’t talk to people about it.
Q. If all of these people – let’s leave Mrs. Currie for a minute. Vernon Jordan, Sid Blumenthal, John Podesta, Harold Ickes, Erskine Bowles, Harry Thomasson, after the story broke, after Judge Starr’s involvement was known on January 21st, have said that you denied a sexual relationship with them. Are you denying that?
Q. And you’ve told us that you —
WJC. I’m just telling you what I meant by it. I told you what I meant by it when they started this deposition.
Q. You’ve told us now that you were being careful, but that it might have been misleading. Is that correct?
WJC. It might have been *** So, what I was trying to do was to give them something they could – that would be true, even if misleading in the context of this deposition, and keep them out of trouble, and let’s deal – and deal with what I thought was the almost ludicrous suggestion that I had urged someone to lie or tried to suborn perjury, in other words.
As the President testified before the grand jury, he maintained that he was being truthful with his aides:
[GRAND JURY TAPE #3]
He stated that when he spoke to his aides, he was very careful with his wording. The President stated that he wanted his statement regarding “sexual relations” to be literally true because he was only referring to intercourse.
However, recall that John Podesta said that the President denied sex “in any way whatsoever” “including oral sex.”
The President told Mr. Podesta, Mr. Bowles, Ms. Williams, and Harold Ickes that he did not have a “sexual relationship” with that woman.
And also take note of this fact:
Seven days after the President’s grand jury appearance, the White House issued a document entitled, “Talking Points January 24, 1998.” (Chart W; Exhibit 16) This “Talking Points” document outlines proposed questions that the President may be asked. It also outlines suggested answers to those questions. The “Talking Points” purport to state the President’s view of sexual relations and his view of the relationship with Monica Lewinsky. (Exhibit 17)
The “Talking Points” state as follows:
Q. What acts does the President believe constitute a sexual relationship?
A. I can’t believe we’re on national television discussing this. I am not about to engage in an “act-by-act” discussion of what constitutes a sexual relationship.
Q. Well, for example, Ms. Lewinsky is on tape indicating that the President does not believe oral sex is adultery. Would oral sex, to the President, constitute a sexual relationship?
A. Of course it would.
Based upon the foregoing, the President’s own talking points refute the President’s “literal truth” argument.
I would like to take a few moments to address some of the matters that have been put before you by the President’s defenders over the past few days.
Ever since this inquiry began, we have heard the complaint that no factual witnesses were being called by the Majority. Actually, there are many factual witnesses: Monica Lewinsky, Vernon Jordan, Betty Currie, Sidney Blumenthal, Erskine Bowles, John Podesta; all of whom have testified one or more times under oath either in a formal deposition or before a grand jury. With minimal exceptions, I have avoided reference to interviews and the like. Interviewees are not under oath and usually the report does not reflect the exact words of the witness. I note, though, that the President did rely on unsworn interviews and produced no factual witnesses whatsoever.
Some Members have suggested that none of those witnesses have been subjected to cross-examination. The answer is twofold:
First, this is not a trial, it is in the nature of an inquest. Any witness whose testimony is referred to in this proceeding, will be subjected to full cross-examination if a trial results in the Senate. That is the time to test credibility. As it stands, all of the factual witnesses are uncontradicted and amply corroborated.
Second, if any Member or the President’s counsel had specific questions for any of these witnesses, he or she was free to bring that witness in to testify in this proceeding.
Although the President’s lawyers admit that his actions in the Jones case and in the Lewinsky matter were immoral and I think they said maddening, acts, they argue that they do not rise to the level of criminal activity and certainly not to the level of impeachable offenses. They produced another gaggle of witnesses to testify that this really is not so bad, it’s only lying about sex, that only private conduct is involved and really the Congress should just close up the book, slap the President on the hand, and well, just get on with politics as usual. Some even suggested that prosecutors would not even consider an indictment based upon the evidence available here. That remains to be seen. I doubt if any of those experts have read all the evidence I have read. We know that prosecutors are in possession of this evidence and perhaps much more. Whether to indict is their decision. And whether the offenses of President Clinton are criminally chargeable is of no moment. This is not a criminal trial, nor is it a criminal inquiry. It is a fundamental precept that an impeachable offense need not be a criminal act.
Concerning the perjury issue:
It is noteworthy that the President’s argument is focused on only one aspect of his testimony – that regarding whether he had sexual relations. He glosses over or ignores the perjury claims premised on his denial of being alone with Ms. Lewinsky, his denial of any involvement in obtaining a job for her in his January 17 deposition, his falsely minimizing the number of occasions on which he had encounters with Ms. Lewinsky and his lies regarding gifts to and from Ms. Lewinsky.
They also argue that because the President “believed” that he was telling the truth and there is no proof that he did not so believe, then he is not guilty of perjury. That totally misstates the law of perjury. They assert that under the law, the subjective belief of the defendant is what controls. In fact, however, the question of perjury is judged by an objective standard as to what is “reasonable” under the circumstances, not the nebulous subjective standard advanced by the President’s counsel.
The President’s subjective belief is not sufficient. He admits that he is an attorney and at the time of his deposition, was represented by Mr. Bennett as well as Mr. Ruff. He had an independent duty to review the definition of sexual relations and to determine whether in fact his conduct fell within that definition. He cannot rely on his attorney who was not in possession of all the facts to divorce himself from a determination of the truth. He cannot rely on what his attorney “thinks” when he, the President, is the only person who knows the relevant facts and is able to determine whether his conduct fell within the definition. In other words, there must be a reasonable basis for the President’s subjective belief, to have any merit. There was no reasonable basis.
Similarly, the argument that there is “no proof” that the President did not believe he was telling the truth as to whether he engaged in “sexual relations” under the Jones definition, ignores the record. The proof that the President’s “subjective belief” is contradicted by the evidence is overwhelming and has been addressed in detail. For the President now to advance the assertion that he had a subjective belief that his conduct did not constitute “sexual relations” continues the subterfuge and obstruction begun in the Jones case, continued in the grand jury and presented here before Congress.
Another argument propounded by those who oppose impeachment is that the President’s lies were not material to the Jones case. That is, the Lewinsky information was private and irrelevant. That argument, though, was disposed of by Judge Susan Webber Wright in her order of December 11, 1997. She said:
The Court finds, therefore, that the plaintiff is entitled to information regarding any individuals with whom the President had sexual relations or proposed or sought to have sexual relations and who were during the relevant time frame [five years prior to May 8, 1991, to the present] state or federal employees. Plaintiff is also entitled to information regarding every person whom the President asked, during the relevant time frame, to arrange a private meeting between himself and any female state of federal employee which was attended by no one else and was held at any location other than his office [footnote omitted]. The Court cannot say that such information is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.
More than a month before the President’s deposition, and six days before the President suggested that Monica Lewinsky could sign [a phony] affidavit to avoid testifying, the Judge had clearly concluded that the subject matter was neither private nor irrelevant. So much for the materiality issue. If the President’s testimony concerning Monica Lewinsky was not material, the Judge who was physically present during the deposition would never have allowed it.
Judge Wright’s Order is not the only decision on the materiality questions. A recently unsealed opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit conclusively decided the issue.
In the opinion, filed under seal on May 26, 1998, the court addressed Ms. Lewinsky’s argument that she could not have committed perjury or obstruction of justice because her false affidavit did not involve facts material to the Jones case. In a three to zero decision, the Court of Appeals rejected that argument. Citing Supreme Court precedent, the court examined “whether the misrepresentation or concealment was predictably capable of affecting, i.e., had a natural tendency to affect, the official decision.” The judges unanimously concluded:
“There can be no doubt that Lewinsky’s statements in her affidavit were — in the words of Kungys v. United States — ‘predictably capable of affecting’ this decision. She executed and filed her affidavit for this very purpose.”
Of course, if Ms. Lewinsky’s relationship with President Clinton was a material issue when she signed her affidavit, it certainly was a material issue when the President testified at a deposition. And just as those lies could support perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Ms. Lewinsky, they support perjury and obstruction of charges against the President. Both Ms. Lewinsky and the President are subject to the same criminal code.
However, even if the three judges on the D.C. Court of Appeals were wrong, and if for some hypothetical reason, the President’s relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was not material in the Jones case, there can be no doubt in the President’s or anyone else’s mind, that the relationship was absolutely material when he lied to the grand jury and lied to this Committee in his written responses about that relationship.
Perhaps the most strident complaint from the President’s supporters is what they perceive as the “fundamental unfairness” of this process. They have, however, been hard put to point with any degree of specificity to any unfair actions.
First, with reference to the Office of the Independent Counsel, did they treat the President unfairly? They invited him to testify before the grand jury on six occasions before issuing a subpoena. Even then, they withdrew the subpoena and allowed Mr. Clinton the dignity of appearing voluntarily. During his grand jury testimony, which, by the way, was given in the White House and not the District Court, the President was permitted to have his lawyers present at all times. The prosecutors allowed him to read a statement into the record and to rely on that statement in lieu of an answer some nineteen times. Finally, the time allotted for questioning the President was limited. Not one of these courtesies is afforded any other witness before a grand jury.
Second, in the dealings with this Committee the President has been treated with extraordinary courtesy and fairness. Examples abound:
1. The Rodino Watergate format was adopted giving the White House the privilege of:
a. Responding to evidence received and testimony adduced,b. Suggesting additional testimony or other evidence to make a complete record,
c. Attending all executive or open hearings at which witnesses are called; and
d. Questioning witnesses before the Committee
2. The President’s counsel was permitted to cross examine Judge Starr for a full hour.
3. A complete hearing was held, in part because of a White House request, concerning standards for impeachment.
4. The President’s counsel was allowed access to the secure room to assist in preparing his defense.
5. The Committee afforded the President thirty hours, or the equivalent of four days, to present witnesses or other defense evidence.
6. The staff met with White House counsel to try working out a method of cooperation, and
7. The Chairman repeatedly asked the White House to submit any exculpatory evidence.
Despite all of these efforts, the Chairman continues to suffer from accusations of unfairness. What more do they want?
On the other hand how fair have the President and his supporters been?
Was it fair to procure and produce false affidavits from prospective witnesses in the Jones case and thus subject those witnesses to prosecution for perjury? How about employing every conceivable means, including perjury and obstruction, to defeat the legal rights of a single woman who claimed that she had been wronged? How fair was it to stand by and allow his friends to attack that woman’s character with remarks like “drag a $10.00 bill through a trailer camp and you never know what will turn up?” Was it fair to Monica Lewinsky to construct an elaborate lie that made it appear that she was a predator who threatened to lie about a sexual encounter if the President didn’t succumb to her advances. By the way, if the dress had not turned up that story would have been President Clinton’s defense. The stage had already been set, the scenery was in place and the actors had been given their lines.
Was it fair for the President to coach Betty Currie knowing that she would likely testify under oath and expose her to possible criminal charges? And how about the constant trashing of anyone who had the courage to criticize, or to refuse to go along with the game plan? Is it fair to make misstatements about the Independent Counsel’s Referral and then use those misstatements as a basis to attack Judge Starr’s credibility?
As to the last, my staff and I have had the unenviable task of reviewing the President’s latest submission consisting of almost two hundred pages. For the most part there was nothing new. It had all been presented to you in one form or another by the experts brought in by the Minority and President which, by the way, far outnumbered those produced by the Republican Members. Most of the arguments have been dealt with in my presentation, but a few points should be highlighted.
In paragraph 2 of the Preface the statement is made, “he did not want anyone to know about his personal wrongdoing.” That personal wrongdoing includes perjury, obstruction and the like. Of course he did not want anyone to know, and he lied and had others lie to conceal it.
The introduction contains this statement: “He repeatedly has acknowledged that what he did was wrong, he has apologized, and he has sought forgiveness.” We all know that he has only admitted what he could not deny, and has continued to play games about the rest.
Stripped to its basic elements, the President’s submission merely states:
That the President lied. That it was okay to lie to the people, because it was nobody’s business but his own; that his conduct is not a “high crime or misdemeanor”; that he would never be convicted of perjury or obstruction in a court of law; that the Jones suit was bogus, therefore, his testimony did not matter (do you settle bogus suits for $700,000 after you have won?); Judge Starr was a prosecutor most foul; Judge Starr purposely failed to include relevant exculpatory evidence; and finally, impeachment is such a big step that this Committee should not put the country through it. By the way, who put the country through this? The President, by his actions.
The Submission is the ultimate use of the: “Legal Technicality Concept.”
We have heard all this before. This Submission is a last ditch effort of a president caught in his own legacy of lies, scandal, and abuse of the highest office in the land. The American people deserve better. They do not deserve legal hair splitting, prevarication and dissembling.
Most disturbing to me was the series of misrepresentations regarding the Referral and the material produced to support it. Let me give you a few salient examples:
* Regarding the President’s and Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony the Submission omits a key passage of a quotation in the following testimony. They say:
For example, the President answered “yes” to the question “your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her …?”
The full testimony includes another clause and a longer answer from the President:
Q. So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollection of that ever happening?
A. Yes, that’s correct. It’s possible that she, in, while she was working there, brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only one there. That’s possible.
The President thus testified that despite the theoretical possibility that he was alone with Ms. Lewinsky, he had no recollection of it – and even that possibility was limited to while she worked at the White House and when she was delivering papers. Given that the President and Ms. Lewinsky had been alone less than three weeks earlier, as well as numerous other times over a span of over two years, there is reason to doubt the truthfulness of his answer.
* The President was asked in the deposition, “Did anyone other than your attorneys ever tell you that Monica Lewinsky had been served with a subpoena in this case?” According to the White House, when the President responded negatively – “I don’t think so” – he meant something other than the words he uttered: “Plainly, the President was not testifying that no one other than his attorneys had told him that Ms. Lewinsky had been subpoenaed.” Now they are trying to tell you that “No” means “Yes.”
* The White House submission notes that Ms. Lewinsky stated that no one asked her to lie. The Referral makes this very point. Rather, the President suggested false and misleading cover stories that Ms. Lewinsky could include in a false affidavit designed to keep her from testifying. Ms. Lewinsky has since testified that the affidavit was false and misleading. Moreover, the President’s attorney used this false affidavit during the President’s deposition in an attempt to cut off questioning about Ms. Lewinsky. In criminal law terms, this activity was a conspiracy to lie or to obstruct justice, as is explained in the Referral.
* Concerning evidence regarding the transfer of gifts, the White House contends that the Referral omits a “fundamental and important fact” – that it was Ms. Lewinsky who, in her December 28 conversation with the President, first mentioned Ms. Currie as a possible holder of the gifts. In fact, the Referral twice quotes Ms. Lewinsky’s testimony that she asked the President if “I should put the gifts outside my house somewhere or give them to someone, maybe Betty.”
* The White House submission contends that “a wealth of information contradict[s]” the allegation that the President obstructed justice with regard to gifts he had given Ms. Lewinsky. As the most dramatic contradiction, highlighted as the epigraph to the section, the Submission juxtaposes (i) the Independent Counsel’s statement that “[t]he President and Ms. Lewinsky met and discussed what should be done with the gifts subpoenaed from Ms. Lewinsky,” and (ii) Ms. Lewinsky’s statement in the Grand Jury that “he really didn’t – he really didn’t discuss it.” In truth, “he really didn’t discuss it” came in response to a second, more specific question, after Ms. Lewinsky had spent several hundred words recounting her conversation with the President about the gifts. The White House’s quotation is so brazenly misleading that I will quote the full excerpt:
Juror [R]etell for me the conversation you had with the President about the gifts.
Witness Okay. It was December 28 and I (Ms. Lewinsky) was there to get my Christmas gifts from him … And we spent maybe about five minutes or so, not very long, talking about the case. And I said to him, “Well, do you think -” What I mentioned – I said to him that it had really alarmed me about the hat pin being in the subpoena and I think he said something like, “Oh,” you know, “that sort of bothered me, too,” you know, “That bothers me.” Something like that.
And at one point, I said, “Well, do you think I should -” I don’t think I said “get rid of, ” I said, “But do you think I should put away or maybe give to Betty or give to someone the gifts?”
And he – I don’t remember his response. I think it was something like, “I don’t know,” or “Hmm” or – there really was no response.
I know that I didn’t leave the White House with any notion of what I should do with them, that I should do anything different than that they were sitting in my house. And then later I got the call from Betty.
Juror: Now, did you bring up Betty’s name or did the President bring up Betty’s name?
Witness: I think I brought it up. The President wouldn’t have brought up Betty’s name because he really didn’t – he didn’t discuss it, so either I brought up Betty’s name, which I think is probably what happened, because I remember not being too, too shocked when Betty called. (Emphasis added)
* As an omission characterized as “very cautious,” “insidious,” “extraordinary,” and “wholly unfair,” – there’s that word again – the Submission charges that the Referral never attempts to rebut Ms. Currie’s assertion that Ms. Lewinsky wanted to get rid of the gifts because, in Ms. Currie’s words, “people were asking questions about the stuff he had gotten.” In fact, the Referral outlines Ms. Currie’s understanding of these “questions” and points out contradictory evidence.
* The White House alleges that “no mention is made in the Referral of the fact that the OIC and the grand jurors regarded it as ‘odd’ that there was a gift-giving on the same day the President allegedly caused the gifts to be recovered.” In fact, the Referral not only acknowledges this apparent anomaly, but uses the same term: “When Ms. Lewinsky was asked whether she thought it odd for the President to give her gifts under the circumstances (with a subpoena requiring the production of all his gifts), she testified that she did not think of it at the time, but she did note some hesitancy on the President’s part.”
* According to the White House, the Referral omits “important testimony” from Ms. Currie to the effect that Ms. Lewinsky asked her to pick up the box of gifts. In fact, the Referral includes Ms. Currie’s recollection three times.
* The White House contends that the Referral inaccurately indicates that Ms. Currie said that the gift transfer occurred on December 28. In fact, the Referral says that “Ms. Currie stated, at various times, that the transfer occurred sometime in late December 1997 or early January 1998.”
* The White House alleges that the Referral ignores conflicting evidence regarding the transfer of gifts. In truth, the Referral forthrightly states that “[t]he testimony conflicts as to what happened when Ms. Lewinsky raised the subject of gifts with the President and what happened later that day.” The Referral then outlines various possible scenarios and the possible interpretations of the evidence.
* The White House Submission contends that the gift-concealment allegation is “undermine[d]” by the fact that the President gave Ms. Lewinsky additional gifts on December 28. It quotes Ms. Lewinsky as essentially bolstering this theory, in a footnote which we reprint in the White House’s ellipsis:
Ms. Lewinsky replies, “You know, I have come recently to look at that as sort of a strange situation …
Ms. Lewinsky’s full response tells a far different story:
You know, I have come recently to look at that as sort of a strange situation, I think, in the course of the past few weeks, but at the time, I was – you know, I was in love with him, I was elated to get these presents and – at the same time that I was so scared about the Paula Jones thing, I was happy to be with him and – I – I didn’t think about that.
He had – he had hesitated very briefly right before I left that day in kind of packaging – he packaged all my stuff backup and I just sort of – you know, remember him kind of hesitating and thinking to myself – I don’t think he said anything that indicated this to me, but I thought to myself, “I wonder if he’s thinking he shouldn’t give these to me to take out.” But he did.
Then there are the misrepresentation regarding litigation issues:
* The White House alleges that the OIC waited “two full months to question Nancy Hernreich after the withdrawal of executive privilege, thus showing that meritless assertions of executive privilege did not delay the OIC investigation. In fact, Ms. Hernreich testified nine days after the White House withdrew the privilege claim.
And misrepresentation regarding Ms. Lewinsky’s job search:
* The White House Submission argues that the Grounds Section of the Referral does not include all of the minutiae related to the job search. But the Referral specifically states in the Grounds Section that “[t]he entire saga of Ms. Lewinsky’s job search and the President’s assistance in that search is discussed in detail in the Narrative Section of the Referral. We summarize and analyze the key events and dates here.” And in fact, the Narrative of the Referral includes all pertinent facts discussed in the White House Submission.
Misrepresentations regarding law and history
* The White House Submission heavily stresses the two-witness rule in perjury cases, but Congress and the courts have limited the applicability of the rule. The rule does not apply to false statements about one’s memory, such as an “I don’t recall” response when the witness in fact does recall. In addition, the two-witness rule does not apply to prosecutions under Section 1623(c) of Title 18.
* The Submission cites Raoul Berger’s authoritative history Impeachment: The Constitutional Problems (1973), but fails to note Professor Berger’s analysis of the precise question at issue here – whether private misconduct, including perjury, may lead to impeachment:
To conclude that the Founders would have impeached a judge who accepted a bribe of $100, but would shield one who forged a note for $10,000 or who filed a perjured affidavit in a private transaction, would attribute to them a thralldom to concepts from which they were far removed.
Does it ever stop? Didn’t they think that we would read their Submission before addressing it. This again proves the arrogance of the White House and its disdain for the intellect of the American people.
Some of the experts that have testified have questioned whether the President’s deportment affects his office, the government of the United States or the dignity and honor of the country. We should take a few moments to examine those questions.
Our founders decided in the Constitutional Convention that one of the duties imposed upon the President is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Furthermore, he is required to take an oath to “Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Twice this President stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand to God and repeated that oath.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that no persona shall “be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”
The Seventh Amendment insures that in civil suits “the right of trial by jury shall be preserved.”
Finally, the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees due process of law and the equal protection of the laws.
Shall we examine the concepts of due process, equal protection and the right to trial by jury as practiced by the President to determine whether he has kept his oath to preserve, protect and defend?
Paula Jones is an American citizen, just a single citizen who felt that she had suffered a legal wrong.
More important, that legal wrong was based upon the Constitution of the United States. She claimed essentially that she was subjected to sexual harassment, which, in turn, constitutes discrimination on the basis of gender. The case was not brought against just any citizen, but against the President of the United States, who was under a legal and moral obligation to preserve and protect Ms. Jones’ rights. It is relatively simple to mouth high minded platitudes and to prosecute vigorously rights violations by someone else. It is, however, a test of courage, honor and integrity to enforce those rights against yourself. The President failed that test. As a citizen, Ms. Jones enjoyed an absolute constitutional right to petition the Judicial Branch of government to redress that wrong by filing a lawsuit in the United States District Court, which she did. At this point she became entitled to a trial by jury if she chose, due process of law and the equal protection of the laws no matter who the defendant was in her suit. Due process contemplates the right to a full and fair trail, which, in turn, means the right to call and question witnesses, to cross examine adverse witnesses and to have her case decided by an unbiased and fully informed jury. What did she actually get? None of the above.
On May 27, 1997, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a nine to zero decision that, “like every other citizen,” Paula Jones “has a right to an orderly disposition of her claims.” In accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, United States District Judge Susan Webber Wright ruled on December 11, 1997, that Ms. Jones was entitled to information regarding state or federal employees with whom the President had sexual relations from May, 1986 to the present. Judge Wright had determined that the information was reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Six days after this ruling, the President filed an answer to Ms. Jones’ Amended Complaint. The President’s Answer stated: “President Clinton denies that he engaged in any improper conduct with respect to plaintiff or any other woman.”
Ms. Jones’ right to call and depose witnesses was thwarted by perjurious and misleading affidavits and motions; her right to elicit testimony from adverse witnesses was compromised by perjury and false and misleading statements under oath, and, as a result, had a jury tried the case, it would have been deprived of critical information.
That result is bad enough in itself, but it reaches constitutional proportions when denial of the civil rights is directed by the President of the United States who twice took an oath to preserve, protect and defend those rights. But we now know what the “sanctity of an oath” means to the President.
Moreover, the President is the spokesman for the government and the people of the United States concerning both domestic and foreign matters. His honesty and integrity, therefore, directly influence the credibility of this country. When, as here, that spokesman is guilty of a continuing pattern of lies, misleading statements and deceits over a long period of time, the believability of any of his pronouncements is seriously called into question. Indeed, how can anyone in or out of our country any longer believe anything he says? And what does that do to confidence in the honor and integrity of the United States?
Just a few brief quotations:
“The President must be permitted to respond to allegations . . . not only to defend his own personal integrity, but the integrity of the Office of the Presidency itself.”
That is because:
“The President, for all practical purposes . . . affords the only means through which we can act as a Nation.”
“A President needs to maintain prestige as an element of Presidential influence in order to carry out his duties effectively. In particular, a President must inspire confidence in his integrity, compassion, competency and capacity to take charge in any conceivable situation. Indeed, it is scarcely possible to govern well in the absence of such confidence.”
I am not quoting from some law book or from an esoteric treatise on government. Those quotations are taken directly from pleadings and briefs filed in the Jones case on behalf of William Jefferson Clinton.
Make no mistake, the conduct of the President is inextricably bound to the welfare of the people of the United States. Not only does it affect economic and national defense, but even more directly, it affects the moral and law abiding fibre of the commonwealth, without which no nation can survive. When, as here, that conduct involves a pattern of abuses of power, of perjury, of deceit, of obstruction of justice and of the Congress and of other illegal activities; the resulting damage to the honor and respect due to the United States is, of necessity, devastating.
Again: there is no such thing as non-serious lying under oath. Every time a witness lies, that witness chips a stone from the foundation of our entire legal system. Likewise, every act of obstruction of justice, of witness tampering or of perjury adversely affects the judicial branch of government like a pebble tossed into a lake. You may not notice the effect at once, but you can be certain that the tranquility of that lake has been disturbed. And if enough pebbles are thrown into the water, the lake itself may disappear. So too with the truth seeking process of the courts. Every unanswered and unpunished assault upon it has its lasting effect and given enough of them, the system itself will implode.
That is why those two women who testified before you had been indicted, convicted and punished severely for false statements under oath in civil cases. And that is why only a few days ago a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted four former college football players because they gave false testimony under oath to a grand jury. Nobody suggested that they should not be charged because their motives may have been to protect their careers and family. And nobody has suggested that the perjury was non-serious because it involved only lies about sports; betting on college football games.
Apart from all else, the President’s illegal actions constitute an attack upon and utter disregard for the truth, and for the rule of law. Much worse, they manifest an arrogant disdain not only for the rights of his fellow citizens, but also for the functions and the integrity of the other two co-equal branches of our constitutional system. One of the witnesses that appeared earlier likened the government of the United States to a three legged stool. The analysis is apt; because the entire structure of our country rests upon three equal supports; the Legislative, the Judicial and the Executive. Remove one of those supports, and the State will totter. Remove two and the structure will either collapse altogether or will rest upon a single branch of government. Another name for that is tyranny.
The President mounted a direct assault upon the truth seeking process which is the very essence and foundation of the Judicial Branch. Not content with that, though, Mr. Clinton renewed his lies, half truths and obstruction to this Congress when he filed his answers to simple requests to admit or deny. In so doing, he also demonstrated his lack of respect for the constitutional functions of the Legislative Branch.
Actions do not lose their public character merely because they may not directly affect the domestic and foreign functioning of the Executive Branch. Their significance must be examined for their effect on the functioning of the entire system of government. Viewed in that manner, the President’s actions were both public and extremely destructive.
The apples and oranges method employed to defend the President is well illustrated in the matter of President Nixon’s tax returns. Thus, they argue from the fact that Mr. Nixon was not impeached for lying on a tax return, that perjury is not an impeachable offense. But President Nixon avoided that charge only because there was not enough evidence to prove deliberate lying. That is like arguing that because Lizzie Borden was acquitted of killing her mother with an ax, it is not a crime to kill one’s mother with an ax.
Today, our country is at a crossroad from which two paths branch off. One leads to the principles – at once familiar and immortal – contained in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are principles that for over Two Hundred Years have so affected our actions as to earn the admiration of the world and to gain for the United States the MORAL leadership among nations. There was a time not so very long ago when a policy decision by the President of the United States was saluted as “the most unsordid act in the history of mankind.”
The other path leads to expediency, temerity, self interest, cynicism and a disdain for the welfare of others and the common good. That road will inevitably end in iniquity, dishonor and abandonment of the high principles that we, as a people, rely upon for our safety and happiness. There is no third road.
This is a defining moment both for the Presidency and especially for the Members of this Committee.
For the Presidency as an institution because if you don’t impeach as a consequence of the conduct that I have just portrayed, then no House of Representatives will ever be able to impeach again. The bar will be so high that only a convicted felon or a traitor will need to be concerned.
Remember experts came up before you and pointed to the fact that the House refused to impeach President Nixon for lying on an income tax return. Can you imagine a future President, faced with possible impeachment, pointing to the perjuries, lies, obstructions, tamperings, and abuses of power by the current occupant of the office as not rising to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors? If this isn’t enough, what is? How far can the standard be lowered without completely compromising the credibility of the office for all time?
It is likewise a defining moment for you, the Members of the Judiciary Committee.
The roster of this Committee over the years has contained the names of several great Americans:
Peter Rodino, Emmanuel Celler, Tom Railsbach, Bill McCulloch and Barbara Jordan.
These very walls are infused with the honor and integrity that has always prevailed in this Chamber. Now it is your turn to add to or subtract from that Honor and Integrity.
You have heard the evidence, you have read the law, you have listened to the experts, and you have heard all the arguments.
What I say here will be forgotten in a few days; but what you do here will be incised in the history of the United States for all time to come. Unborn generations – assuming those generations are still free and are still permitted to read true history – will learn of these proceedings and will most certainly judge this Committee’s actions. What will be their verdict? Will it be that you rose above party and faction, and reestablished Justice, Decency, Honor and Truth as the standard by which even the highest office in the land must be evaluated? Or will it be that you announced that there is no abiding standard and that public officials are answerable only to politics, polls and propaganda. God forbid that that will be your legacy.
The choice, though, is yours.
On Tuesday one of the witnesses referred to our country as the Ship of State. The allusion is to the poem “The Building of the Ship” by Longfellow. Permit me to quote the stanza:
Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, Oh Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
How sublime, poignant and uplifting; yet how profound and sobering are those words at this moment in history. You now are confronted with the monumental responsibility of deciding whether William Jefferson Clinton is fit to remain at the helm of that Ship.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”
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