Food For Thought|
September 11th, 1998
David Lawrence Dewey
"Reading provides knowledge...
knowledge leads to answers."
Below is White House Rebuttal To The Starr Report released today, September 11th, 1998
Summary of Key Points of the President's Case in Anticipation of the Starr Report
1:) The President has acknowledged a serious mistake - an inappropriate relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He has taken responsibility for his actions, and he has apologized to the country, to his friends, leaders of his party, the cabinet and most importantly, his family.
2:) This private mistake does not amount to an impeachable action. A relationship outside one's marriage is wrong - and the President admits that. It is not a high crime or misdemeanor. The Constitution specifically states that Congress shall impeach only for "treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors." These words in the Constitution were chosen with great care, and after extensive deliberations.
3:) "High crimes and misdemeanors" had a fixed meaning to the Framers of our Constitution - it meant wrongs committed against our system of government. The impeachment clause was designed to protect our country against a President who was using his official powers against the nation, against the American people, against our society. It was never designed to allow a political body to force a President from office for a very personal mistake.
4:) Remember - this report is based entirely on allegations obtained by a grand jury - reams and reams of allegations and purported "evidence" that would never be admitted in court, that has never been seen by the President or his lawyers, and that was not subject to cross-examination or any other traditional safeguards to ensure its credibility.
5:) Grand juries are not designed to search for truth. They do not and are not intended to ensure credibility, reliability, or simple fairness. They only exist to accuse. Yet this is the process that the Independent Counsel has chosen to provide the "evidence" to write his report
6:) The law defines perjury very clearly. Perjury requires proof that an individual knowingly made a false statement while under oath. Answers to questions that are literally true are not perjury. Even if an answer doesn't directly answer the question asked, it is not perjury if it is true - no accused has an obligation to help his accuser. Answers to fundamentally ambiguous questions also can never be perjury. And nobody can be convicted of perjury based on only one other person's testimony.
7:) The President did not commit perjury. Most of the illegal leaks suggesting his testimony was perjurious falsely describe his testimony. First of all, the President never testified in the Jones deposition that he was not alone with Ms. Lewinsky. The President never testified that his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky was the same as with any other intern. To the contrary, he admitted exchanging gifts with her, knowing about her job search, receiving cards and notes from her, and knowing other details of her personal life that made it plain he had a special relationship with her.
9:) The President has admitted he had an improper sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky. In a civil deposition, he gave narrow answers to ambiguous questions. As a matter of law, those answers could not give rise to a criminal charge of perjury. In the face of the President's admission of his relationship, the disclosure of lurid and salacious allegations can only be intended to humiliate the President and force him from office.
9:) There was no obstruction of justice. We believe Betty Currie testified that Ms. Lewinsky asked her to hold the gifts and that the President never talked to her about the gifts. The President admitted giving and receiving gifts from Ms. Lewinsky when he was asked about it. The President never asked Ms. Lewinsky to get rid of the gifts and he never asked Ms. Currie to get them. We believe that Ms. Currie's testimony supports the President's.
10:) The President never tried to get Ms. Lewinsky a job after she left the White House in order to influence her testimony in the Paula Jones case. The President knew Ms. Lewinsky was unhappy in her Pentagon job after she left the White House and did ask the White House personnel office to treat her fairly in her job search. He never instructed anyone to hire her, or even indicated that he very much wanted it to happen. Ms. Lewinsky was never offered a job at the White House after she left - and it's pretty apparent that if the President had ordered it, she would have been.
11:) The President did not facilitate Ms. Lewinsky's interview with Bill Richardson, or her discussions with Vernon Jordan. Betty Currie asked John Podesta if he could help her with her New York job search which led to an interview with Bill Richardson, and Ms. Currie also put her in touch with her longtime friend, Mr. Jordan. Mr. Jordan has made it clear that this is the case, and, as a private individual, he is free to offer job advice wherever he sees fit.
12:) There was no witness tampering. Betty Currie was not supposed to be a witness in the Paula Jones case. If she was not called or going to be called, it was impossible for any conversations the President had with her to be witness tampering. The President testified that he did not in any way attempt to influence her recollection.
13:) There is no "talking points" smoking gun. Numerous illegal leaks painted the mysterious talking points as the proof that the President or his staff attempted to suborn the perjury of Monica Lewinsky or Linda Tripp. The OIC's spokesman said that the "talking points" were the "key" to Starr even being granted authority to investigate the President's private life. Yet in the end, Ms. Lewinsky has apparently admitted the talking points were written by her alone [or with Ms. Tripp's assistance], and the President was not asked one single question about them in his grand jury appearance.
14:) Invocation of privileges was not an abuse of power. The President's lawful assertion of privileges in a court of law was only made on the advice of his Counsel, and was in significant measure validated by the courts. The legal claims were advanced sparingly and as a last resort after all attempts at compromise by the White House Counsel's office were rejected to protect the core constitutional and institutional interests of this and future presidencies
15:) Neither the President nor the White House played a role in the Secret Service's lawful efforts to prevent agents from testifying to preserve its protective function. The President never asked, directed or participated in any decision regarding the protective function privilege. Neither did any White House official. The Treasury and Justice Departments independently decided to respond to the historically unprecedented subpoenas of Secret Service personnel and to pursue the privilege to ensure the protection of this and future presidents.
16:) The President did not abuse his power by permitting White House staff to comment on the investigation. The President has acknowledged misleading his family, staff and the country about the nature of his relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, and he has apologized and asked for forgiveness. However, this personal failing does not constitute a criminal abuse of power. If allowing aides to repeat misleading statements is a crime, then any number of public officials are guilty of misusing their office for as long as they fail to admit wrong doing in response to any allegation about their activities.
This means that the OIC report is left with nothing but the details of a private sexual relationship, told in graphic details with the intent to embarrass. Given the flimsy and unsubstantiated basis for the accusations, there is a complete lack of any credible evidence to initiate an impeachment inquiry concerning the President. And the principal purpose of this investigation, and the OIC's report, is to embarrass the President and titillate the public by producing a document that is little more than an unreliable, one-sided account of sexual behavior.
Where's Whitewater? The OIC's allegations reportedly include no suggestion of wrongdoing by the President in any of the areas which Mr. Starr spend four years investigating: Whitewater, the FBI files and the White House travel office. What began as an inquiry into a 24 year old land deal in Arkansas has ended as an inquest into brief, improper personal encounters between the President and Monica Lewinsky. Despite the exhaustive nature of the OIC's investigation into the Whitewater, FBI files and travel office matters, and a constant stream of suggestions of misconduct in the media over a period of years, to this day the OIC has never exonerated the President or the First Lady of wrongdoing.
PRELIMINARY MEMORANDUM CONCERNING
REFERRAL OF OFFICE OF INDEPENDENT COUNSEL
This document is intended to be a preliminary response to the Referral submitted by the Office of Independent Counsel to The Congress. Because we were denied the opportunity to review the content, nature or specifics of the allegations made against the President by the Office of Independent Counsel (OIC), we do not pretend to offer a point-by-point refutation of those allegations, or a comprehensive defense of the President.
We commend the House of Representatives for the extraordinary steps it has taken to safeguard the secrecy of the OIC's allegations. Unfortunately, its efforts were thwarted by unnamed sources familiar with the details of the OIC's allegations -- sources that could only come from the OIC itself -- who saw fit to leak elements of the allegations to the news media. Based on these illegal leaks, as well as our knowledge of the President's testimony, we offer this document as a summary outline of his side of the case. We will provide you with a specific rebuttal as soon as we have had a chance to review the materials that the OIC has already transmitted to you.
The simple reality of this situation is that the House is being confronted with evidence of a man's efforts to keep an inappropriate relationship private. A personal failure that the President has acknowledged was wrong, for which he apologized, and for which he accepts complete responsibility.
A personal failure for which the President has sought forgiveness from members of his family, members of the Cabinet, Members of Congress, and the American people. Such a personal failing does not, however, constitute "treason, bribery and high crimes and misdemeanors" that would justify the impeachment of the President of the United States. The President himself has described his conduct as wrong. But no amount of gratuitous details about the President's relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, no matter how salacious, can alter the fact that:
1) The President did not commit perjury:
2) The President did not obstruct justice;
3) The President did not tamper with witnesses; and
4) The President did not abuse the power of his office.
Impeachment is a matter of incomparable gravity. Even to discuss it is to discuss overturning the electoral will of the people. For this reason, the Framers made clear, and scholars have long agreed, that the power should be exercised only in the event of such grave harms to the state as "serious assaults on the integrity of the processes of government," or "such crimes as would so stain a president as to make his continuance in office dangerous to public order." Charles L. Black, Impeachment: A Handbook 38-39 (1974). We do not believe the OIC can identify any conduct remotely approaching this standard. Instead, from press reports, if true, it appears that the OIC has dangerously overreached to describe in the most dramatic of terms conduct that not only is not criminal but is actually proper and lawful.
The President has confessed to indiscretions with Ms. Lewinsky and accepted responsibility and blame. The allegations concerning obstruction, intimidation, perjury and subornation of perjury that we anticipate from the OIC are extravagant attempts to transform a case involving inappropriate personal behavior into one of public misconduct justifying reversal of the judgment of the electorate of this country.
I. STANDARDS FOR IMPEACHMENT
The Constitution provides that the President shall be removed from office only upon "Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." U.S. Const. Art. II, § 4. Of course, there is no suggestion of treason or bribery present here. Therefore, the question confronting the House of Representatives is whether the President has committed a "high Crime or Misdemeanor." The House has an obligation to consider the evidence in view of that very high Constitutional threshold. It should pursue the impeachment process only if there is evidence implicating that high standard.
The House must approach the question with solemnity and with care, for history teaches that an "impeachable offense" is no ordinary kind of wrongdoing. The Framers included specific provisions for impeachment in the Constitution itself because they understood that the most severe political remedy was necessary to remedy the most serious forms of public wrongdoing. Impeachment is a basic constitutional safeguard, designed both to correct harms to the system of government itself and to protect the people from ongoing malfeasance.
Nothing less than the gravest executive wrongdoing can justify impeachment. The Constitution leaves lesser wrongs to the political process and to public opinion. Presidential impeachment is thus a matter of incomparable gravity. As Professor Charles Black stated, [t]he presidency is a prime symbol of our national unity. The election of the president (with his alternate, the vice-president) is the only political act that we perform together as a nation; voting in the presidential election is certainly the political choice most significant to the American people, and the most closely attended to by them. No matter, then, can be of higher political importance than our considering whether, in any given instance, this act of choice is to be undone, and the chosen president dismissed from office in disgrace. Everyone must shrink from this most drastic of measures.
See the results of the should Clinton resign poll.
Read Highlights of Starr's Report, click here
Here is two links that will lead you to the various sources that have the compete 445 page report.
"http://www.thomas.loc.gov/icreport - Thomas site, You can read the entire report. Warning, this is slow, even on a good day!
©: 1998, David Lawrence Dewey
~ David Lawrence Dewey ~
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