Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat - Iowa)
Voting Record -- Impeachment Trial of William (Bill) Jefferson Clinton
|AmeriRoots Home Page||Senate Index|
Mr. HARKIN. A few weeks ago, I used a barnyard term that is quite known in Iowa to describe what I thought of this case. The longer this case has gone on, the more I am convinced this characterization is correct.
This case should never have been brought before the Senate. I think it is one of the most blatant partisan actions taken by the House of Representatives since Andrew Johnson's case was pushed through by the radical Republicans of his time.
I think it is important for us to take a look at how this case got here. One might ask why is it important how it got here?
Well, if you believe that the end justifies the means, it is probably not very important. But if you believe the end doesn't justify the means, that those who are charged with enforcing the law cannot break the law in order to bring someone to the bar of justice, and if you believe the rule of law applies not only to the defendant, the President in this case, but also to the prosecutors and those sworn to uphold that rule of law, then it is important to look at how the case got here.
First, we have a statute, the independent counsel statute which at best I believe is flawed and at worst unworkable which allows someone to be targeted without regard to money or time. In fact, it has essentially created a fourth branch of Government with no checks or balances.
Again, the conduct, I want to point out, of Ken Starr does not excuse the behavior of the President but has everything to do with our perspective on the case and how we approach it, how we weigh our decision. We are not jurors, we are judges and the supreme Court of Impeachment, which has some of the elements of a court of equity. If somebody approaches this court, they better do it with clean hands.
Where the political motivation is so blatant, as it has been in this case, I think we in the Senate should have our guard up, not only on what the case is about, but how it got here. This is the sort of political impeachment case that Madison and Hamilton wanted to avoid, and I refer you to Federalist Paper No. 65, and Hamilton warned the greatest danger would be `that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.' That is why he argued for it to come to the Senate and have a two-thirds requirement in order to convict and remove.
So in the beginning, Ken Starr is picked by a three-judge panel to investigate Whitewater. Whitewater turns into Travelgate. Travelgate turns into Filegate, and then one wonders, how did Monica Lewinsky ever drop in on this?
If we look back, when Ken Starr was a private attorney, in 1994, he had dealings with Paula Jones' attorneys in terms of her then-pending lawsuit. So he had prior involvement himself with the Paula Jones case.
So the Paula Jones case proceeds forward. And in October of 1997, an entity called the Rutherford Institute, funded by conservative forces in the United States, found some new attorneys for Paula Jones and became heavily involved in the case.
Now some time around that time, Linda Tripp, with whom Monica Lewinsky had shared her most intimate details of her involvement with the President, begins talking with these attorneys. That is sort of the status of the case as of December 1997.
And here I ask unanimous consent to have printed an article from the New York Times, dated January 24, which more or less documents this.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
From the New York Times, Jan. 24, 1999
[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, JAN. 24, 1999]
Quietly, Team of Lawyers Who Disliked Clinton Kept Jones Case Alive
(BY DON VAN NATTA JR. AND JILL ABRAMSON)
Washington: This time last year, Hillary Rodham Clinton described, in a now-famous appearance on the NBC News program `Today,' how a `vast right-wing conspiracy' was trying to destroy her husband's Presidency.
As it turns out, some of the most serious damage to Bill Clinton's Presidency came not from his high-profile political enemies but from a small secret clique of lawyers in their 30's who share a deep antipathy toward the President, according to nearly two dozen interviews and recently filed court documents.
While cloaking their roles, the lawyers were deeply involved -- to an extent not previously known -- for nearly five years in the Paula Jones sexual misconduct lawsuit. They then helped push the case into the criminal arena and into the office of the independent counsel, Kenneth W. Starr.
The group's leader was Jerome M. Marcus, a 39-year-old associate at the Philadelphia law firm of Berger & Montague, whose partners are major contributors to the Democratic Party.
Although Ms. Jones never met him or knew he had worked on her behalf, Marcus drafted legal documents and was involved in many of the important strategic decisions in her lawsuit, according to billing records and interviews with other lawyers who worked on the case. As much as any of Ms. Jones's attorneys of record, Marcus helped keep Ms. Jones's case alive in the courts.
Marcus recruited others to assist his efforts, including several friends from the University of Chicago Law School. One of those who was approached, Paul Rosenzweig, briefly considered doing work for Ms. Jones in 1994, according to billing records and interviews, but decided not to. In November 1997, Rosenzweig joined Starr's office, where he and Marcus had several telephone conversations about the Jones case.
It was Rosenzweig who fielded a `heads-up' phone call from Marcus on Jan. 8, 1998, that first tipped off Starr's office about Monica S. Lewinsky and Linda R. Tripp. The tip was not mentioned in the 445-page Starr report, even though the information revived a moribund Whitewater investigation that would not have produced, it now seems, an impeachment referral to Congress.
Marcus did make his views known publicly last month when he wrote an impassioned commentary in The Washington Times urging the impeachment of Clinton. `The cancer is deadly,' Marcus wrote. `It, and its cause, must be removed.' He identified himself in the newspaper simply as `a lawyer in Philadelphia.'
In his long efforts to promote Ms. Jones's lawsuit, and helping Mrs. Tripp find her way to Starr, Marcus found other allies, including another Chicago law classmate, Richard W. Porter. Porter had worked as an aide to former Vice President Dan Quayle and was a partner of Starr's at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, based in Chicago.
George T. Conway 3d, a New York lawyer educated at Yale, shared Marcus's low view of President Clinton. When the Jones case led to Ms. Lewinsky, Marcus and Conway searched for a new lawyer for Mrs. Tripp. Marcus and Porter helped arrange for Mrs. Tripp to take her explosive allegations to Starr.
Their effort are only now coming into focus, as a few of their associates have begun to discuss their activities and their names appear repeatedly in the final legal bills submitted by the original Jones legal team. Messrs. Marcus, Porter and Conway did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
In their arguments before the Senate this week, the President's lawyers said that there was collusion between Starr's office, Mrs. Tripp and the lawyers for Ms. Jones in the weeks leading up to the President's deposition last January. If witnesses are called in the Senate impeachment trial, the President's lawyers may explore the issue further, several Clinton legal advisers said.
Charles G. Bakaly 3d, the spokesman for Starr, denied there was collusion between the independent counsel's office and the Jones team, including Marcus. `There was absolutely no conspiracy between the Jones lawyers and our office,' Bakaly said. `Judge Starr has testified to the circumstances as to how this matter came to our attention, and the actions that we took thereafter.'
Clinton said in his grand jury testimony in August that his political enemies `just thought they would take a wrecking bail to me and see if they could do some damage.' That wrecking ball was wielded by Marcus and his colleagues, who managed to drive Paula Corbin Jones's allegation of sexual misconduct into the courtroom and beyond.
THREE CLASSMATES AT CHICAGO LAW SCHOOL
Marcus, Porter and Rosenzweig were classmates at the University of Chicago Law School, graduating in 1986. Conway met the others through the Jones case. Some of the lawyers were also involved with the Federalist Society, a legal group that includes conservative and libertarian luminaries like Starr, Robert H. Bork and Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.
Porter was the most overtly political member of the group, having worked on the staff of Vice President Quayle and on the Bush-Quayle campaign, where he did opposition research.
Porter was also an associate of Peter W. Smith, 62, a Chicago financier who was once the chairman of College Young Republicans and a major donor to Gopac, a conservative political group affiliated with former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Beginning in 1992, Smith spent more than $80,000 to finance anti-Clinton research in an effort to persuade the mainstream press to cover Clinton's sex life. Among others, his efforts involved David Brock, the journalist who first mentioned the name `Paula' in an article on Clinton.
Smith declined an interview request.
In 1993, Brock said, Smith helped introduce him to the Arkansas state troopers who accused Clinton of using them to procure women when he was Governor of Arkansas. Brock wrote an article based on the troopers' account of Clinton's sexual escapades that was published in the January 1994 issue of The American Spectator, a conservative magazine. According to Brock, Smith wanted to establish a fund for the troopers, in case they suffered retribution. Brock said he opposed payments because they would undermine the troopers' credibility.
To allay his concerns, Brock said, Smith urged him to speak to Porter, who was then working at Kirkland & Ellis, the Chicago law firm that employed Starr in its Washington office. Brock said he had hoped his talk with Porter would put an end to any planned payments to the troopers, but Smith did pay them and their lawyers $22,600.
In 1992, Smith also paid Brock $5,000 to research another bit of Arkansas sex lore regarding Clinton, a rumor that has since proved to be baseless.
Brock did not pursue an article.
Brock's trooper article in The American Spectator mentioned a woman identified as `Paula,' and in May 1994, Ms. Jones filed her lawsuit against President Clinton. Ms. Jones's lawyers of record were from the Washington area, Gilbert K. Davis and Joseph Cammarata, whom Marcus had helped recruit.
LAWYERS OF RECORD HAD HELP FROM START
The Davis and Cammarata billing records show that from their earliest involvement in the case, they were consulting with Marcus and Porter. Conway also helped draft briefs, Cammarata said.
`Marcus was involved,' Cammarata said, `but he insisted that he not be identified. But that was fine with me. We were just two guys involved in the middle of a world war. We welcomed his help.'
No one was more important to the Jones case than Marcus. Besides helping to write several important briefs, Marcus spoke numerous times at the most critical moments in the case with Cammarata and Davis, offering legal advice that Cammarata said was `vital.'
According to the billing records, Porter also offered `legal strategy' and once wrote a memo on `investigative leads' that might embarrass the President.
`Porter was a cheerleader,' Cammarata said. `He used to call up and say, `Maybe we can find you some money.'
One of President Clinton's legal advisers said he noticed a marked difference in quality between the routine legal pleadings filed by the Cammarata and Davis team, and the polished, scholarly briefs written by the shadow legal team headed by Marcus and Conway.
Marcus, meanwhile, was so successful at keeping the extent of his role a secret that even Cammarata only found out recently that Marcus had trouble finding lawyers to agree to represent Ms. Jones. `No one wanted to touch this case,' Cammarata said. `No one wanted to take on the President of the United States.'
Another friend of Marcus also briefly considered assisting the Jones lawyers.
In June 1994, Rosenzweig, a lawyer at a small law firm in Washington, with experience working in the Justice Department, expressed interest in doing legal work on behalf of Ms. Jones, but he did none, lawyers involved in the case said.
LAW FIRM INCLUDED INFLUENTIAL DEMOCRATS
Conway wanted his role kept hidden as well, because his New York law firm, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, included influential Democrats like Bernard W. Nussbaum, a former White House counsel. Conway's name does not appear on any billing records.
Although the billing records show communication between Porter and the Jones lawyers from 1994 to 1997, he denied in a written statement last fall doing legal work for Ms. Jones.
Because Porter is a partner at the firm where Starr worked until he took a leave of absence last August, any role played by Porter in the Jones case could have posed a conflict of interest for Starr once he became independent counsel. Starr has said he did not discuss the Jones case with Porter.
Starr has acknowledged contacts with Davis, specifically six telephone discussions the two had in 1994, before Starr became independent counsel. In fact, Starr has been criticized for not disclosing the phone conversations to Attorney General Janet Reno when he was seeking to expand his investigation to the Lewinsky matter. Starr has said it did not occur to him to mention the conversations because he did not do work on the Jones case and simply offered his publicly stated position on a point of constitutional law that Presidents are not immune from civil lawsuits.
Before the Jones lawyers argued before the Supreme Court in May 1996, paving the way to the fateful 9-0 decision that the President was not immune from civil lawsuits, Conway went to Washington for a practice argument. He joined Davis, Cammarata, Judge Robert Bork and Theodore Olson, a Washington lawyer and friend of Starr, at the Army-Navy Club here.
When Cammarata and Davis quit as Ms. Jone's lawyers after she failed to reach a settlement with President Clinton's lawyers in 1997, Marcus and his colleagues established ties to her new lawyers at the Dallas law firm of Rader, Campbell, Fisher & Pyke and the Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Va., which helped pay her legal expenses.
In November 1997, Rosenzweig went to work as a prosecutor in Starr's office. And from November to January, Rosenzweig spoke several times by telephone with Marcus and discussed the Jones case, a lawyer with knowledge of the conversations said. But Bakaly, a spokesman for Starr, said that Rosenzweig did not tell any of his colleagues about what he learned about developments in the Jones case.
By this time, Mrs. Tripp was cooperating with the Jones lawyers. She was also taping her conversations with Ms. Lewinsky, which her friend, Lucianne Goldberg, a Manhattan literary agent, had incorrectly assured her was legal. In December, Mrs. Tripp became frantic that she might be prosecuted because such taping is illegal in Maryland, where Mrs. Tripp lives. Mrs. Tripp and Ms. Goldberg thought of a possible solution: perhaps she could receive immunity from prosecution from Starr.
Ms. Goldberg called Smith, the Chicago financier, and Porter for advice on how Mrs. Tripp might approach Starr. In a teleconference during the first week of January 1998, Ms. Goldberg talked to Porter and Marcus. Meanwhile, Marcus sought new lawyers for Mrs. Tripp. Conway suggested an old friend, James Moody, a Washington lawyer and fellow Federalist Society member, whom Mrs. Tripp retained.
Because he was Starr's former law partner, Porter did not want to be the first one to call the independent counsel's office on behalf of Mrs. Tripp. So Marcus made the call to Rosenzweig.
Mr. HARKIN. So now we have the involvement of Linda Tripp giving information to Paula Jones' attorneys. From about late October, early November until January 1998, a lawyer by the name of Jerome Marcus in Philadelphia, who has done extensive work for the Jones legal team, had been talking to a friend of his, Paul Rosenzweig, a prosecutor in Mr. Starr's office, about the Lewinsky matter. We didn't know the exact nature of these discussions, but we do know they talked a number of times. But we do know that on January 8 Marcus contacted Rosenzweig and told him about the relationship of Monica Lewinsky and the President.
Right after this, Linda Tripp contacts the Office of Independent Counsel to talk about Lewinsky and tells them about the tapes she has made, the telephone tapes, the tapes of her telephone conversations with Monica Lewinsky. The day after that, Tripp is wired by FBI agents working with Starr, meets with Lewinsky, and records their conversation without Lewinsky's knowledge -- and doing this without any authorization to do it. They didn't get it until 4 days later.
Now, all this is done prior to President Clinton ever giving a deposition or testifying before a grand jury. And so Clinton has done nothing yet in terms of testifying. So one might ask, What was Starr and his team after? If, in fact, this was a consensual sexual relationship between Clinton and a young woman who was an adult, what did it have to do with Whitewater or anything else they were investigating?
Well, here is why it had something to do with it. Let me quote from an article written by Joseph Isenburgh, a professor of law at the University of Chicago. I happen to have read it because he was supporting this findings of fact procedure, and I wanted to see what his thoughts were. But later on in his treatise he said this:
What is perverse about the impeachment of President Clinton is the idiotic premise on which it rests. The President wasn't forced to respond to judicial process in the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit because he committed a crime of paramount public concern. That case, remember, was dismissed as meritless.
I am continuing to quote him:
The misconduct at issue here had no independent significance. It is, itself, merely a byproduct of a judicial process directed at the President, essentially of a `sting' set-up in the courts.
`A `sting' set-up in the courts.' That is what Ken Starr and the Jones attorneys, working in tandem, were doing, setting him up. And you can see this clearly when you watch Clinton on videotape in the deposition before the Paula Jones attorneys. They present him with this definition of `sexual relations' that even the judge herself said was confusing. They knew what they were going after. But President Clinton did not know that they had all this information about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky -- a classic sting operation.
Also, keep in mind that Linda Tripp briefed the Paula Jones attorneys the night before that deposition and gave them the tapes of her telephone conversations. In light of this, it is interesting to note that in today's New York Times, February 10, the conduct of the independent counsel is so suspect and potentially violative of Justice Department policy and law that he now is under investigation for a number of reasons which I won't read. But I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Record. And you can read it in today's New York Times.
There being no objection, the articles were ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
From the New York Times, February 9, 1998
[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, FEBRUARY 9, 1998]
Inquiry to Ask Whether Reno Was Misled by Starr's Office
(BY DAVID JOHNSTON AND DON VAN NATTA, JR.)
Washington, Feb. 9 -- The Justice Department has decided to begin an inquiry to determine whether Kenneth W. Starr's prosecutors misled Attorney General Janet Reno about possible conflicts of interest when they obtained permission to investigate the Lewinsky matter in January 1998, Government officials said today.
Among other concerns, the inquiry will focus on whether the prosecutors should have disclosed the contacts between Mr. Starr's office and the Paula Jones legal team in the weeks leading up to Mr. Starr's decision to ask Ms. Reno to expand his inquiry beyond the Whitewater matter, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
In recent months, documentation has emerged indicating that there were conversations between a prosecutor in Mr. Starr's office and a lawyer working behind the scenes with the Jones legal team from November 1997 to January 1998.
But a series of newly disclosed notes taken at the initial meetings on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16, 1998, between Mr. Starr's prosecutors and Justice Department officials, shows that the prosecutors flatly asserted that there had been no contacts with the Jones team.
For example, Eric H. Holder Jr., the Deputy Attorney General, wrote in this three pages of notes of a Jan. 15, 1998, meeting with Mr. Starr's prosecutors: `They've had no contact with plaintiff's attys.'
Handwritten notes by two other Justice Department officials, Monty Wilkinson and Josh Hochberg, corroborate the statements attributed to Mr. Starr's prosecutors.
Moreover, notes taken by another participant in the meeting, Steven Bates, a prosecutor in Mr. Starr's office, indicate that Jackie M. Bennett, one of Mr. Starr's deputies, told the Justice Department officials: `We've had no contact with the plaintiffs' attorneys. We're concerned about appearances.'
The notes have become crucial evidence in the Justice Department inquiry, which will be conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which investigates prosecutorial misconduct. The lawyers' notes became public just last month as part of the Senate record of documents related to the impeachment trial of the President.
The truthfulness of Mr. Starr's prosecutors is one of several issues that the department wants to examine, the Government officials said. Lawyers in the ethics office also intend to investigate whether Mr. Starr abused his authority to convene grand juries, or improperly pressed witnesses like Ms. Lewinsky, and disclosed secret grand jury information to reporters, the officials said.
Mr. Clinton's lawyers and supporters have long contended that there was collusion between Mr. Starr's office and the conservative Jones lawyers, noting that Linda R. Tripp found her way to the Office of Independent Counsel through a group of private lawyers who performed legal work on the Jones case. Mr. Starr has insisted that his office sought permission from Ms. Reno to expand his jurisdiction when he learned of allegations that President Clinton's close friend Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. was helping Monica S. Lewinsky find a job in exchange for her silence as a possible witness in the Jones lawsuit.
Charles G. Bakaly 3d, a spokesman for Mr. Starr's office, would not comment on the Justice Department's plans to start an investigation. But Mr. Bakaly said the notes showed that prosecutors had supplied the Justice Department with a thorough status report on the then-nascent inquiry.
`I don't know how else to put it,' Mr. Bakaly said. `There was no misleading of Justice. This was a very fluid evolving situation. Unlike most public corruption cases, this one was ongoing; felonies were still possibly being committed.'
This latest inquiry has exacerbated tensions that have existed between the Justice Department and the Office of Independent Counsel almost since the beginning of the Lewinsky scandal.
At one point last spring, Ms. Reno asked her senior aides to research whether she had the authority to discipline Mr. Starr in some way that stopped short of removing him, said a former Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some aides told her that it would be a mistake, comparing it to the `Saturday Night Massacre' when President Nixon ordered the firing of the Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in October 1973.
But, the official said, Ms. Reno shot back: `I'm not asking you to make a political judgment. I'm asking you to make a legal judgment.'
Deepening hostilities between the Justice Department and Mr. Starr's office delayed the start of the new ethics inquiry. The ethics investigators recently wrote to Mr. Starr outlining the scope and authority for the investigation, the officials said. Mr. Starr's prosecutors are challenging the inquiry, asserting that the Attorney General does not have the authority to delve into highly sensitive grand jury material or investigative decisions that led Ms. Reno to refer the case to Mr. Starr.
Ms. Reno's aides have said that investigative authority is implied by language in the independent counsel statute, which gives the Attorney General the sole responsibility to remove an independent prosecutor.
Over time, Justice Department officials, including Ms. Reno, have become troubled by what they view as possible violations of Justice Department guidelines. From issues like calling the Secret Service before the grand jury to the crossfire over leaks to reporters, Mr. Starr's prosecutors and Justice Department officials have feuded privately.
`As time went on, people became more and more frustrated with him,' the Justice Department official said of Mr. Starr. `He seemed less concerned with Department of Justice policies.'
The ethics lawyers are trying to determine whether prosecutors in Mr. Starr's office had a vested interest in the outcome of the Jones case, an interest that would have undercut their ability to impartially investigate allegations related to the lawsuit. If that conflict existed, the officials said, it would have been an important factor as Ms. Reno weighed whether to recommend to a three-judge panel that Mr. Starr take on the Lewinsky matter.
At this point, the ethics unit of the Justice Department must determine whether Mr. Starr and his prosecutors violated departmental rules and prosecutorial guidelines. Their findings could lead to recommendations for disciplinary action, like reprimands or suspension of employment.
The relationship between Ms. Reno and Mr. Starr began as a wary but cordial one that a Government official compared to `Thatcher and Gorbachev.'
At times, Ms. Reno has expressed exasperation over Mr. Starr's conduct, fuming over letters sent by Mr. Starr's prosecutors accusing the Justice Department of trying to undercut the inquiry.
Mr. Starr's prosecutors had also grown angry and suspicious about Ms. Reno's aides, suggesting that the Justice Department was under the control of the White House and had quietly tried to squelch Mr. Starr's effort, the officials said.
Since October, several news organizations have reported how Mr. Starr's office first learned about the Lewinsky matter. On Jan. 8, 1998 -- four days before Linda R. Tripp contacted Mr. Starr's office -- Jerome M. Marcus, a Philadelphia lawyer who did extensive work for the Jones legal team, informed Paul Rosenzweig, a prosecutor in Mr. Starr's office, about the Lewinsky accusations.
The early tip was not disclosed in Mr. Starr's 445-page referral to Congress. Nor was it disclosed to the Justice Department. And The New York Times reported last month that there were several conversations between Mr. Marcus and Mr. Rosenzweig from November 1997 to January 1998.
David E. Kendall, one of the President's personal lawyers, complained to Ms. Reno in October that `very serious questions' were raised about those contacts.
The allegations of collusion prompted lawyers at the Justice Department to turn their attention to their own recollections and their own handwritten notes, of statements made by Mr. Starr's representatives on Jan. 15, 1998, officials said today.
One former Justice Department lawyer said in an interview that Ms. Reno was especially disappointed in the fact that the early phone call was not shared with her senior aides in January 1998.
Last month, The New York Times reported that Mr. Marcus was the leader of a small secret group of lawyers working behind the scenes on the Jones case. Mr. Marcus drafted legal documents and was involved in many of the most important strategic decisions in the Jones lawsuit, according to billing records in the Jones case and interviews with other lawyers who worked with him.
Mr. Marcus recruited other conservative lawyers to assist with his efforts, approaching among others, Paul Rosenzweig, who briefly considered doing work for Ms. Jones in 1994, the billing records show, but decided not to.
In November 1997, Mr. Rosenzweig joined Mr. Starr's office, where he and Mr. Marcus had several conversations about the Jones case, said a lawyer familiar with their discussions.
Mr. Bakaly, the spokesman for Mr. Starr, has adamantly denied any suggestion of collusion. When Mr. Starr testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 19 of last year, he was asked by the chief counsel for the minority, Abbe D. Lowell, about the `substantial contacts' that Mr. Starr had had with Jones lawyers.
In a series of questions, Mr. Lowell tried to suggest that Mr. Starr should have revealed the contacts to the Justice Department in January 1998, and that Richard W. Porter, a partner of Mr. Starr's at the law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, had declined a request to represent Ms. Jones.
`I know Richard Porter; I've had communications with him from time to time,' Mr. Starr testified. `But in terms of a specific discussion with respect to what the law firm may be doing or may not be doing, I'm not recalling that specifically, no.'
From the New York Times, Feb. 9, 1998
[FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, FEB. 9, 1998]
Tracing the Past: How Legal Paths of Jones and Lewinsky Joined
(BY TIM WEINER WITH NEIL A. LEWIS)
WASHINGTON -- Shortly after 10 a.m. on Jan. 17, a Saturday, the president of the United States stepped out of the White House into the back of a black limousine and rode a block to his lawyer's office to undergo a six-hour grilling in the case of Paula Jones vs. William Jefferson Clinton.
For six weeks, the president's lawyers had known that he might be asked a startling question: Did you have a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky? When the question came, the president's body tensed and his jaw tightened, said a lawyer involved in the case, and, under oath, he denied it.
The questions continued: Had the president been alone with Lewinsky? Had he given her gifts? He said he might have been alone with her briefly while she performed some clerical task, and he might have given her some presidential souvenirs, the lawyer recalled.
The deposition ended, President Clinton returned to the White House, canceled dinner plans with his wife and called his personal secretary, Betty Currie, asking her to meet him at the White House the next morning.
When they met, the president asserted that he had never been alone with Lewinsky at the White House, said lawyers familiar with Mrs. Currie's account. But that assertion did not square with Mrs. Currie's recollection.
In addition, Mrs. Currie had turned over to investigators a hat pin, a brooch and a dress she retrieved from Lewinsky, the lawyers said, items that are believed to have been given to her by the president but which do not fit his description of have been given to her by the president but which do not fit his description of White House souvenirs. It is not clear who, if anyone, instructed Mrs. Currie to retrieve the gifts.
Was Clinton less than truthful about his relationship with Lewinsky, the 24-year-old former White House intern? Was he using his trusted secretary to hide evidence from Mrs. Jones, the former Arkansas state employee suing him over what she says was a crude sexual advance nearly seven years ago?
The president's battle with the Whitewater independent counsel, Kenneth Starr -- and, perhaps, Clinton's place in history -- may depend on the answers. If he lied, or if he urged others to lie or conceal evidence, he could face the threat of impeachment.
How did Clinton become the first president forced to testify under oath about his private life? How did the Jones case -- once demeaned by the president's lawyers as third-rate `tabloid trash' -- come to threaten Clinton's presidency? The answers lie in a detailed look at the recent past.
When Mrs. Jones' lawyers learned of Lewinsky's existence, it was as if two live wires had met in an incendiary tangle.
The lawyers' hunt for information about Lewinsky, which they sought to buttress Mrs. Jones' charge of sexual misconduct by Clinton, led directly to Starr's investigation into the possibility of perjury and obstruction of justice at the highest levels. Now Starr is demanding that Mrs. Jones' lawyers turn over everything they have learned in their search for women who contend they have had sexual encounters with Clinton.
The two cases merged that Saturday morning. As the president testified, with Mrs. Jones staring him in the face during the deposition, Lewinsky was at home at the Watergate, recovering from the shock of her life.
Twelve hours earlier, she ended an intense encounter with federal investigators pursuing the president on Starr's behalf. The investigators confronted Lewinsky with the devastating news that her colleague and confidante Linda Tripp had been taping their intimate telephone conversations for months.
Tripp had told Starr's investigators that Lewinsky lied in her affidavit in the Jones case by denying that she had ever had sex with Clinton. While Tripp was working undercover for Starr, she was preparing to file an affidavit in Jones vs. Clinton, swearing that Lewinsky `had a sexual relationship with President Clinton.'
The tapes presented the threat of prison for Lewinsky unless she disavowed her affidavit and cooperated with Starr. The tapes recorded Lewinsky saying that the president `won't settle' the Jones case because `he's in denial,' according to published excerpts of the tapes. If so, refusal had turned that private lawsuit into a potential personal and political disaster.
The miasma enveloping the White House began rising four months ago.
On Oct. 1, the Rutherford Institute, a conservative legal center in Virginia, publicly offered to help Mrs. Jones. The institute found Mrs. Jones new lawyers from the Dallas firm of Rader, Campbell, Fisher & Pyke and offered to pay her legal expenses.
In the first week of October, a woman telephoned the Rutherford Institute with an anonymous tip: a woman named Monica had had sex with the president in the White House. The same tipster, described by the man who took the call as `a nervous young woman,' called back in late October, providing a surname: Lewinsky.
Days after the first tip, the Dallas lawyers telephoned Tripp. Newsweek quoted her in its Aug. 11 issue as a witness to a supposed sexual encounter between the president and Kathleen Willey, a White House volunteer. A lawyer involved in the chain of events said Tripp later gave the lawyers Lewinsky's name. Tripp's lawyer, James Moody, denies that. The question is unresolved.
LEWINSKY GETS HELP WITH JOB INTERVIEWS
On Oct. 7, Lewinsky sent the first of nine packages from her office at the Pentagon to the White House and to the office of Vernon Jordan, Clinton's friend and confidant. The packages contained, among other things, letters and documents relating to her search for a new job. A key question for Starr is whether the White House and Jordan helped her find a job for reasons beyond altruism.
Two weeks later, Lewinsky secured a job interview with Bill Richardson, the chief U.S. delegate to the United Nations, arranged by a White House deputy chief of staff, John Podesta, at Mrs. Currie's request.
On Oct. 22, Richardson had a 40-minute interview with Lewinsky in Richardson's living room at the Watergate apartment and hotel complex, where she lives and where he maintains an apartment. In November, Lewinsky was offered a job on Richardson's public relations staff.
But Lewinsky eventually declined the offer. She wanted a better-paying position in the private sector in New York.
In early December, Jordan talked to Lewinsky about helping her find that job. The go-between for their discussions was again Mrs. Currie. Jordan set up interviews for Lewinsky at three companies where he had personal and corporate connections: Revlon, American Express and Young & Rubicam, the advertising agency.
Dec. 5 was the deadline for submitting witness lists in the Jones case. And on that list, on that day, the president's lawyers saw Lewinsky's name for the first time.
From that moment on, the paths of two people from two different worlds -- Paula Jones from Lonoke, Ark., and Monica Lewinsky from Beverly Hills, Calif: were on course to collide at the White House.
SUBPOENA SEEKS GIFTS TO LEWINSKY
Dec. 19, a Friday, Mrs. Jones' lawyers served Lewinsky with a subpoena requesting information, including any gifts from the president. She called a Washington lawyer, Francis Carter, on Jordan's recommendation.
Christman Eve was Lewinsky's last day of work at the Pentagon. She still did not have a new job.
On or about Dec. 28, a Sunday, she had a private talk with Clinton at the White House, said lawyers in the case. The president told her not to worry about being drawn into a lawsuit and advised her to describe her earlier White House visits as meetings with Mrs. Currie, the lawyers said.
As for the subpoenaed gifts, the president said Lewinsky could not produce them if she no longer had them, according to the lawyers' account. Mrs. Currie has told investigators that she retrieved a box of gifts from Lewinsky -- including the dress, the brooch and the hat pin -- and subsequently turned the items over to Starr.
AFFIDAVIT INCLUDES DENIAL OF SEX
On Jan. 7, a Wednesday, Lewinsky completed an affidavit saying she never had sex with the president, said her lawyer William Ginsburg. The affidavit was not immediately filed with Mrs. Jones' lawyers.
The judge in the case had suggested that testimony be limited to accounts of sexual favors received by Clinton in exchange for government jobs. Lewinsky contended she knew nothing of the sort, Ginsburg said; her affidavit was intended to keep her out of the Jones trial.
Tripp has suggested to lawyers in the case that Lewinsky did not intend to file the affidavit until she had secured a job. That suggestion has not been independently corroborated by Lewinsky or anyone else.
On Jan. 8, Lewinsky had a final job interview at Revlon, and Jordan made telephone calls on her behalf to the company, where he serves as a director. One of those calls went to Revlon's chairman, Ronald O. Perelman. A few days later, Revlon offered Lewinsky a job.
Now events approached critical mass.
On Jan. 12, Tripp made contact with Starr's office, saying that Lewinsky had had an affair with the president and that she, Tripp, had secret tapes to prove it. The same day, Carter told Mrs. Jones' lawyers that Lewinsky had denied any sexual relationship with the president in her affidavit.
On Jan. 13, Tripp, with a tiny tape recorder provided by Starr's office, met Lewinsky for a long lunch, during which Lewinsky is said to have described her conversations about her affidavit with Jordan.
On Jan. 14 or Jan. 15, Lewinsky handled Tripp three pages of `talking points,' aimed at persuading Tripp to deny any knowledge of sexual impropriety by Clinton in the Jones lawsuit. It is unclear who wrote the document.
On Jan. 15, Starr's office told the Justice Department about Tripp's accusations. A panel of federal judges authorized Starr to investigate whether Clinton and Jordan had encouraged Lewinsky to lie under oath in her affidavit.
On Jan. 16, a Friday, the case reached an explosive state. The Federal Bureau of Investigation confronted Lewinsky. That day and the next, reporters began asking White House officials pointed questions, including whether the president had tried to influence other people's testimony in Jones vs. Clinton, a former White House official said. News of Starr's expanded investigation had already leaked.
Clinton knew none of this. Nor did he know, as he confronted Mrs. Jones on Jan. 17, that he would be so extensively questioned about Lewinsky. Mrs. Jones lawyers appeared to know more details about Lewinsky than the president's lawyers had anticipated.
The next morning, Clinton summoned Mrs. Currie to the White House and reviewed with her some of the questions and answers he had given the previous day about Lewinsky, said lawyers familiar with Mrs. Currie's account. The president told her he had never been alone with Lewinsky and that he had resisted her sexual advances, these lawyers said.
If this was an effort at damage control, it failed. The story of Tripp's tapes was already leaking out, and Starr was already aiming this investigation directly at the White House, preparing to summon a parade of aides, including Mrs. Currie, to a grand jury.
On Jan. 21, a Wednesday, the inquiry was national news. That day, Tripp signed an affivadit for Mrs. Jones' lawyers. It said Lewinsky had `revealed to me in detailed conversations that she had a sexual relationship with President Clinton since November 15, 1995.'
If that is so, the president `committed perjury' in his sworn deposition, and `embarked on a very aggressive cover-up campaign' afterward, one of Mrs. Jones' lawyers, Donovan Campbell, said in court papers filed last Thursday.
Those charges are now at the heart of one of the strangest investigations ever carried out against a president of the United States.
Mr. HARKIN. So I just want to end this part of my discussion by saying we have heard a lot about the rule of law recently, about how it applies. Now, how about how it applies to those who are supposed to enforce the law, how it applies to Ken Starr and the Office of Independent Counsel?
Mr. Hyde went on many times in his opening and closing arguments about what this teaches our kids about honesty and truthfulness, that the rule of law means something. Well, yes, it means something. It means something to our kids and future generations that honesty and truthfulness and the rule of law also applies to those who are cloaked with the authority to enforce that law. We must teach our kids that the ends do not justify the means, that law enforcement officials cannot break the law in order to bring someone to the bar of justice.
So now, in this long process, the case is before the House Judiciary Committee. And only Ken Starr testifies on the facts. He gives them all these documents. But it is interesting to note, he does that before the election. He waits until after the election to give them all the Whitewater, Filegate, and Travelgate charges, which he drops. That happens after the election. They hear Ken Starr. And it is interesting to note that at the end of his long testimony, every Republican on the House Judiciary Committee gives him a standing ovation. What kind of political statement does that make? This was nothing like the kind of balanced evidentiary material given the Judiciary Committee in the House by Leon Jaworski in the Watergate case concerning then-President Nixon.
So in summary, what we have here is an out-of-control independent counsel with his own political agenda and vendetta, a blank check to spend millions to look into every nook and cranny of President Clinton's public as well as personal life. You add this to a zealous group of House Republican Judiciary Committee members who fanned the flames, and some Members who already, prior to this, filed a resolution to impeach the President. What you have here is a blatant, vindictive political case.
The American people figured it out a long time ago. They know the truth of what happened. And the truth is very simple. The President had a consensual, illicit affair with a young woman. He tried to cover it up. He misled others to cover it up. That is the truth. All this other stuff we are delving into is the details of about who touched who where, how many times they met, who exchanged gifts. The truth is simple and straightforward, and the American people figured it out, and they have a judgment about this.
They said it is wrong, but it's personal. And he violated his marriage oath, not his oath of office. It is a sin, but not a crime. It is between him and his wife and his family and his God. And it is not an impeachable offense. I have said many times the American people can abide sin but not hypocrisy.
Throughout this entire case, hypocrisy abounds. Much has been said about the rule of law and the truthfulness and honesty regarding President Clinton. How about as it applies to Starr? How about truthfulness, when he doesn't include, in his presentation, that very important statement that Monica Lewinsky said: `No one ever asked me to lie'? How about honesty when it comes to him not providing exculpatory material?
Having failed to get Bill Clinton on the stated reasons for the independent counsel -- on Whitewater, Travelgate and Filegate -- they shift to illicit sex and a classic sting operation.
So we are left with two charges. Perjury. This falls far short, and there is no evidence to support the fact that he perjured himself before the jury. Evasive? Yes. Dodging? Yes. But not knowingly making a false statement under oath material to the case. Doesn't fit.
Second article. Obstruction of justice. The House managers built their case on what they called the seven pillars of obstruction, which we have seen turned out to be seven sand castles of speculation. I think the most telling point was Monica Lewinsky, on her own tape last Saturday, when Mr. Bryant asked her, `You didn't have a personal reason to file a false affidavit?' And she said, `Yes, I did.' He said, `Why?' She said, `Because I didn't want to get involved with the Jones case. I didn't think it was any of their business.' End of story on obstruction because everything else rests on that.
That is why I have said, the more we look at this case, the more it is a counterfeit case. Like a counterfeit dollar bill, even to a trained eye, you look and it may look real, but you put it under a microscope and you see it's counterfeit. That's what happened in this case.
The House managers' case was based on inferences and conjecture. The White House's case was based on direct facts in evidence, and that is the difference.
In closing, two wrongs don't make a right. President Clinton did have an illicit affair. It was wrong and demeaning. Ken Starr abused justice, set up a sting operation, the wiring of Linda Tripp, the leaks, the salacious material.
Clinton's wrong, I submit, was more of a sin. Ken Starr's wrong is more of a crime. The damage to the rule of law is done more by Ken Starr than by Bill Clinton. At the beginning, I said the House had a heavy burden, given the history and partisanship of this case, to prove articles I and II and that they rise to an impeachable level. They never met that burden. Accordingly, I will vote not guilty on both charges.
Finally, as you know, there has been much talk of a censure resolution. As I said before, I said I believe the appropriate form is for each Senator to express his or her opinion on this matter. I personally see no need to join 99 others, and in doing so, set a dangerous precedent that could be easily abused in the future. So here is my censure of the President.
I want to state emphatically, I do not condone his behavior that has been so thoroughly exposed and seared in the American conscious ad nauseam. It is the sordid affair of all sordid affairs. The President brought dishonor to himself. He brought tremendous pain and embarrassment to his family, friends and colleagues. And rather than ennobling the Presidency, his behavior has been the butt of jokes and ridicule.
This behavior was totally at odds with his many achievements and conduct in his official capacity as President. The President has stated clearly he has sinned and that he has misled his family, his friends, his staff, and the American people. He has said that he is sorry and he has asked for forgiveness.
I do so now and say it is time to put this sad chapter behind us; move on to the important work of this Nation.
Permission is granted to view this material on the World Wide Web. All other rights reserved.
Information provided on this page is "AS-IS" with no warranty regarding its accuracy. Please report any suspected errors or comments to Liberty@AmeriRoots.com
Last updated: March 02, 1999; Version: 1.3