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June 05, 2007

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Good. People who break the law should do the time.

So 30 months is what you were arguing for for Clinton?

"(I didn't know it was possible to put our national security first while outing a CIA agent. Live and learn.)"

This is a time-honored Republican tradition.

"Hall Testifies of Necessity 'To Go Above Written Law'"

North Walked 'Fine Line,' Ex-Secretary Says
By Dan Morgan and Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 10, 1987; Page A01

Former White House secretary Fawn Hall said yesterday that she shredded telephone records of her boss, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, last Nov. 21 to prevent the Iran-contra initiatives from becoming "unraveled," and explained that there were "times when you have to go above the written law."

"Oh, I see that others have begun doing this."

You might or might not want to link to where you saw that. :-) But otherwise, readers who don't exhaustively peruse all the comment threads -- and I speculate that there may be one or two of those -- may be left clueless as to what you are referring to. I mention this purely out of objective and noble altruistism, of course. (Besides, it supports your case.)

jrudkis: actually, I wrote Clinton twice, the first time urging him to resign, and the second time suggesting that he find some way to ensure that he would be tried for perjury on leaving office (the latter to clearly separate the questions (1) should he be above the law? and (2) should he be impeached?

I wouldn't have recommended 30 months, since he wasn't convicted (a) at all, or (b) on five counts. I would have recommended, and did recommend, that he be tried; had he been convicted, I would have recommended that he do the time.

I used to have the two letters accessible, from some earlier version of this; I'll see whether they still are.

Letters to Clinton.

So 30 months is what you were arguing for for Clinton?

Was Clinton convicted on multiple counts of perjury and obstructing justice? I don't seem to remember that.

Also note that in the Clinton case there wasn't an underlying crime, that the perjury was in discovery (I think), and that the definition used there was remarkably tendentious. I would have been ashamed if my party did that to the other side.

Quality trolling there: let's all talk about Teh Clenis!

The original post was about a comparison to the Clinton perjury issue. I don't think it was trolling.

Hilzoy,

Thanks for the reply. I did not know that. For myself, I was in favor of impeachment by the house but not conviction in the Senate...so I got what I thought most appropriate.

Not just outing a covert CIA agent, but wrecking an operation that was investigating and monitoring Iran's nuclear efforts: if that doesn't go directly to national security, I don't know what does.

GHW Bush thought death was the appropriate punishment for this kind of thing, if memory serves. Wonder how that would go over?

The judge said he was sentencing Libby "with a sense of sadness. I have the highest respect for people who take positions in our government and appreciate tremendously efforts they bring to bear to protect this country."

Earlier this year two cops were sentenced in the Netherlands: one of them said that the protester he hit hit him first (which wasn't true), the other one lied to back him up. The judge sentenced them quite severley (jailtime) because it is worse when a cop lies. He represents justice, and the public should trust officers of the law more.

In other words: there are places where you should be held to higher standards. Some people felt that there were mitigating circumstances for the cops (agressive protesters) most felt that though that might be true for the crime of hitting, that is not true for the crime of lying about it.

"For myself, I was in favor of impeachment by the house but not conviction in the Senate...so I got what I thought most appropriate."

You didn't ask me, but I'll cheerfully volunteer that while it took me a while to come to it, I did get to the position that he should resign, and Congress should censure him. Failing that, it didn't seem to me to constitute something in the "high crimes and misdemeanors" department, so I felt impeachment was unwarranted; if it had been a job-related matter, that would have been a different matter.

Of course, I rather liked the idea of incumbent President Gore going into the election.

If Clinton had resigned it would have been worse for the country - the VRWC, having tasted human flesh, would have become even more vicious.

Having plowed through the letters (and a remarkably enlightening exercise in tedium it proved), I came up with a sort on the themes of the letters. I dropped a similar comment on Balloon Juice, and I thought I'd post one here.

From least in favour of leniency to most:

1. A surprising (to me) number of ordinary Americans, as well as a few cranks, wrote to ask the judge to throw away the key!

2. Have mercy on the poor man, he has a family, and he's always behaved honourably before.

3. Have mercy, he didn't do it (and he'll never do it again).

4. Have mercy, or you'll discourage other good men from serving in government (pay no attention to the jury behind the curtain).

5. Give your jury an IQ test. He couldn't have done it, because people like him don't do stuff like that, and who believes a jury from Washington, anyhow?

6. Let him go right now, preferably with an apology, or we'll plow up the courthouse lawn and sow dragon's teeth.

That last sums up (for me) a single and singular letter from the Hudson Institute, claiming that the writer (and by implication his broad circle of friends) would never (emphasis original) believe Libby had done anything wrong. And if the judge didn't see it their way, why, American politics would just have to get nasty.

How you get nastier than flying innocent people halfway around the world in order to torture them in secret prisons, the letter writer did not explain. But I suspect they had in mind something along the lines of people like Ann Coulter not restraining themselves any more.

In light of an earlier thread, I think it is worth noting this in the defense sentencing memo:

It was apparent from early in the investigation that classified information relating to a covert intelligence agent had been disclosed without authorization.

I guess no one told Libby's lawyers that Plame drove to CIA headquarters every day.

italiendo!

I thought the Clinton case was a matter for the state of Arkansas to sort out, as it was in a civil case there. It wasn't a federal matter at all. The Supreme Court determined that the President could be sued in a civil matter and that it wouldn't interfere with his duties as President.

There are different standards of lying -- if Clinton had lied about speeding in a school zone during the deposition, it would have been perjury, but perhaps not impeachable.

The whole Paula Jones case was a setup. It was thrown out of court eventually, and was funding by political enemies trying to embarass the President as much as possible -- so the deposition about Monica Lewinsky was a perjury trap. And that subject matter was eventually ruled not material to the case.

The appropriate punishment from the start, it seemed to me, was a fine and/or sanctions by the state bar and/or other penalties assessed by the trial judge. Which is what happened once the impeachment circus was over.

I supported censure, but nothing further in terms of federal penalties.

Bernard: In light of an earlier thread, I think it is worth noting this in the defense sentencing memo:

Actually, that's Patrick Fitzgerald's sentencing memo.

Oops.

About the italics... my apologies.

I note one head-exploding theme coming up in the discussion of what Mr. Bush should do in regard to Mr. Libby: the idea that we should regard him as a victim of political persecution. The support site for Libby has a great quote from the WSJ:"...if Mr. Libby serves a day in prison for a political dispute over Iraq that became a criminal investigation..."

Libby's support site also has a choice quote from Clarice Feldman at American Thinker: "...former Acting Attorney General James B. Comey.... had, in this same period of time, sicced his friend Fitzgerald on to his political opponents..."

Now, I thought all these people worked for a conservative, Republican administration, one which worked closely with a Republican Congress. If somebody wishes us to believe that Mr. Libby, a Republican staffer, had a host of political enemies desperate to pull out all the stops to convict him, they need more than just a bald assertion. Something like evidence of malice aforethought would help, just for starters.

For the record, I have to wonder if the volumes of letters attesting to Libby's personal honour don't have a point: the most honourable people in a crew like the Bush (II) administration generally throw themselves on the grenade when things go South.

they need more than just a bald assertion

nah. they just need a microphone. this isn't about logical proof or preponderance of evidence, this is all rhetorical: scoring political points where possible, while keeping The Base engaged and enraged.

I note one head-exploding theme coming up in the discussion of what Mr. Bush should do in regard to Mr. Libby: the idea that we should regard him as a victim of political persecution. The support site for Libby has a great quote from the WSJ:"...if Mr. Libby serves a day in prison for a political dispute over Iraq that became a criminal investigation..."

This was an idea that shows up in discussions of Iran-Contra as well, and it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies. The sense is that if a politician breaks the law out of personal corruption (say, Rep. Jefferson) or defense of his personal life, which you could call corruption if you wanted to (say, Bill Clinton), you nail them to the wall. But if a politician commits the same crimes in service of a policy goal, their motivation is public-spirited, and so it's wrong to punish them.

And that is seriously messed up. While individual wrongdoers should be punished, crimes with public policy consequences are more, not less, important than crimes with only private consequences. The only thing that made the Lewinsky matter publicly important at all was that it appeared to reflect on Clinton's character; it had no direct consequences that mattered a damn to anyone not personally involved in the Jones lawsuit.

I don't care if people are committing crimes because they really really think that the best policy for the country is one that can't be achieved unless they commit crimes; the laws are there to keep people from getting away with that sort of thing.

Hilzoy wrote to Clinton asking him to resign ...???

I suppose if you ask yourself "What Would Kant Do?" that might be appropriate. But I remember being appalled that the NYT and others were calling on him to resign the presidency over a mistress. I'm glad he didn't take the advice.

Whose base? The persecution of that great (Neo) Conservative Republican servant of the American people, Scooter Libby, came from the Bush Administration, a group of (Neo) Conservative Republicans. What good does enraging the base do, except to get them to form a circular firing squad? I mean, if you want an internal feud and bloodbath to mark the last year of the Bush (II) Administration, I can see how that would look like poetic justice. But unless the Wall Street Journal writer Libby's site quotes keeps a Hillary or Obama button under their lapel, I don't see much point in what they've said.

but lb, it's no coincidence that the republican leadership talks this way. they have an interest in making personal scandals punishable, and politically-motivated scandals exempt.

if you survey the last forty or so years in political crime, there's a pretty clear (though not exceptionless) trend:
democrats go corrupt for personal, generally pecuniary reasons. bribery, influence peddling, the occasional sex scandal. they too should pay the price, but it's all pretty small-potatoes, tawdry stuff.

republicans don't need the money, and are more discreet about their affairs (e.g. bush 41): instead, they break the laws in order to subvert the constitution and attain monarchical powers. and that's okay, because it's official republican ideology. (duke cunningham sinned like a democrat would sin--sex and pay-offs--and the republicans didn't mind throwing him over-board).

there have been a variety of minor democratic scandals, because they are all penny-ante strivers trying to make a buck.

there has been only one republican scandal, for lo these forty years, and it is called the "unitary executive", i.e. the attempt to place a republican president, by hook or by crook, above the reach of the law and the constitution.

indeed, that might be a more concise way to sum up:
democrats break the law.
republicans break the constitution.

anderson--

you're surprised? i'm surprised you're surprised.

i wrote to clinton to tell him to resign. many liberals i know did the same.

the guy lied to a grand jury. once you show your contempt for the system in that way, you have no business in public office.

Argh, zombie Republican talking points on Diane Rehm this morning. Stephen Moore of the WSJ editorial board spouted off about the injustice of the Libby sentence and stated that "we now know" that Plame was not covert and there was no underlying crime. The guest host, Susan Page, did follow by saying that "some people dispute" that Plame was not covert, so clearly that provides balance.

Whose base?

the GOP base, obviously.

The persecution of that great (Neo) Conservative Republican servant of the American people, Scooter Libby, came from the Bush Administration

not according to the professional Republican pundits, it didn't. to them, Fitzgerald is an "out of control" publicity seeker. he's a rogue agent.

for example, Fred Thompson

    "When you put too much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable people who have every incentive to focus massive resources onto one particular person — who gets the plaudits in the media for doing so — it's a bad thing," said Thompson, who plays a prosecuting attorney on NBC's "Law & Order."

What good does enraging the base do, except to get them to form a circular firing squad?

like i said, they don't think Fitzgerald is on their team. they think he's a power-mad glory-hound:

    Fitzgerald has proved himself the most clichéd of Washington types -- the out-of-control special prosecutor. Such is human nature that almost no one has the strength to resist losing all sense of proportion once he has been loosed on the world as a special prosecutor, free to pursue any supposed violation of the law -- no matter how peripheral -- to the ends of the earth

Fitzgerald (and his co-conspirators, Plame and Wilson) is the enemy: he made Bush look bad.

Anderson: there were a bunch of reasons why I wrote him asking him to resign. None of them was anything like: gosh, oral sex??!! They tended to start instead from the thought: look, we're not going to be able to get anything done for the duration of your presidency; you've lied not just to a grand jury but also to e.g. your cabinet, which will make it pretty hard for you to work with them -- and went on from there.

I've never been a big fan of Gen Meyers. His and most other pilot General's idea of war is dropping bombs from 40000 feet. Not exactly seeing your buddies blown up by IEDs. IMO, only Army, Marines and SOF personnel should be CJCS. Then again, Gen Pace, isn't doing such a hot job...despite combat experience.

I was rooting for Libby to get convicted, but as a lawyer, I also try instinctively to hunt for the objective truth in any case. The evidence at trial, it seemed to me, strongly indicated that the leakers (Libby, Rove, Armitage, Fleischer) and their cohorts with whom they gossiped had no friggin' clue that Plame was covert. I saw no evidence that they even thought about the possibility. (Cheney might have known; like Fitzgerald, I'd like to know, but I have no idea one way or the other.)

You can see this in the testimony regarding everyone's reaction following the outing itself. Once the word gets out that hey, Plame was covert and a crime might have been committed here, you suddenly see a global "oh shit!" response on the part of the leakers. In particular, Libby starts talking to Addington and people familiar with the CIA, Fleischer consults with an attorney, everyone all of a sudden wants to know if they're in big trouble. I don't think they would have reacted like this if they'd known all along that Plame was covert.

Now, you might say "isn't it incredibly irresponsible for our highest government officials not to even think about whether they're endangering national security as they pursue revenge against Joe Wilson?" You'd be right, of course, and I think this kind of carelessness is certainly inconsistent with all the letters claiming Libby's highest duty is to our national security, blah blah blah. But I'm not trying to mitigate the offense; I'm just trying to figure out what actually happened.

To me, the most important reason for a stiff sentence in this case was the fact that Libby took no responsibility whatsoever following his conviction, and he was backed up in this by a large conservative movement that viewed this as, essentially, a bullshit prosecution. Under the circumstances, a serious sentence helps send the message that the system doesn't regard this case as bullshit, not at all. You can't force people to get the message, of course, but a slap on the wrist would have merely served to reinforce the argument that this case never should have been brought in the first place.

Hilzoy; we're not going to be able to get anything done for the duration of your presidency; you've lied not just to a grand jury but also to e.g. your cabinet, which will make it pretty hard for you to work with them -- and went on from there.

My reaction, at the time, was "Well, yes, he lied, but he lied about something which was nobody's business but the people involved." I had at that time encountered a lot of news-hysteria stories about politicians who lied about their sex lives, and had by that time formulated the principle: If they don't use their position as politicians to be judgemental about other people's sex lives, then it's nobody's business but their own what their sex life is like."

My grandmothers' reaction (both of them) was "He should have said he would not answer that question, it was none of their business". How that would have flown with a Grand Jury, I don't know: are you allowed to say "I won't answer that, it's not relevant" when it's patently not relevant?

Whatever. People lie about their sex lives: it doesn't necessarily mean they'll habitually lie, or even that they'll lie about anything else.

Uh oh:

Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early today to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

hilzoy: "look, we're not going to be able to get anything done for the duration of your presidency; you've lied [...] to e.g. your cabinet, which will make it pretty hard for you to work with them"

Since this turned out to be entirely wrong, do you regret sending the letters?

rilkefan: no, certainly not the second. I do think Clinton was at best distracted for the last 2 years of his Presidency, and that, for other reasons detailed in the letters, it would have been good for him to leave.

Jes: agreed about lying about sex, but less so in court; plus, that wasn't the main thing. (See letters, if anyone is interested, which I can't see why anyone would be.)

As I recall, Clinton's "lie" under oath can't be perjury. Perjury has to be germain to an active case. The Jones case was dismissed on its merits - ie. Jones couldn't show any injury, physical, financial or emotional, even if the events she alleged HAD taken place. Lying under oath is a lesser offense that isn't even an offense in some jurisdictions.
It is also arguable that Clinton didn't lie under oath. There are lots of people out there who don't think of anything other than baby-making to be "sex". Monica Lewinsky certainly didn't as in one of the famous tapes she remarks "it's not like I had sex with him". If Bill Clinton is of the same mindset, it's entirely possible that he wasn't lying to his thinking.
Therefore - no 30 months for Clinton.

Hmm, would President Gore have been distracted by having to take power in the midst of a witch hunt/press implosion/etc.? And what about the normal lame-duck effect? Well, who knows.

"... said Thompson, who plays a prosecuting attorney on NBC's "Law & Order." Yeah, that's not true. He plays Arthur Branch, the District Attorney of Manhattan, which is to say, the job Robert Morgenthau has. Which isn't the job of "prosecuting attorney." Neither the real character, nor the fictional character, ever prosecute a case, or show up in court. They're the Big Boss; under them are the prosecuting attorneys, doing their entirely different job than that of the elected District Attorney.

It'd be nice if news publications could get even the little things right, although in this case it's really obscure, since only hundreds of millions of people have seen a Law & Order episode, so who might gainsay the error?

Would President Gore have been able to be reelected, with the advantage of incumbency and the advantage/disadvantage of greater distance from Clinton? We'll never know, but the world could have been a very different place. (I didn't want Clinton to resign at the time, though.)

Actually Geeno (12:39), I would agree that Clinton's testimony in the deposition was likely not perjury, but disagee that that is because the lawsuit was ultimately tossed out on the merits. (The claim that his grand jury testimony was perjury really depends on whether the deposition testimony was false, so I'll just focus on the deposition.)
For a lie to perjury it has to be both intentionally false and "material" to the case. Clinton would have has defenses on both counts, although I think the materiality defense the stronger one (albeit not fot he reasons you gave).
In an auto collision case, for instance, if you lie about what color tie you were wearing when the accident occurred, it likely won't be perjury, but if you lie about what color the light was at the time of the accident then you did commit perjury -- and that holds true whether the plaintiff wins the case or not.
So, if Clinton lied about something that was "material" to the case, he would have committed perjury, regardless of whether Paula Jones had or had not been sexually harassed. My problem with the glib characterization of Clinton's deposition testimony as "perjury" is that I find it very hard to credit the notion that questions about contemporary consensual affairs are material to a claim that the defendant made unwanted sexual advances on a subordinate employee many years earlier. Now, maybe you get away with asking that question at a deposition, since "relevance" for discovery purposes is very broad, but I can't see it as "material" in the sense that the criminal law uses the term. This is all leaving aside the issue of the definition of "sexual relations" that was opertive in that particular deposition, which would have given Clinton an argument that the testimony was not false. Giving literally true, aleit quite misleading, testimony is not perjury -- even if it's the kind fo thing that we don't really want our presidents doing.
All that said, it's certainly unseemply for the president to be giving finely-parsed only-arguably-true or actually-false sworn testimony. That it isn't perjury doesn't mean that it wasn't serious and that it didn't show some degree of contempt for the law. Never mind that the suit was bogus and partisan. You have two choices: answer the question honestly, no matter how embarassing and politically costly, or (b) get your lawyer to object to the question, instruct you not to answer, and immediately seek a protective order from the court. Hell, the court might even grant it.
As for the court of public opinion -- or the question of the impeachment-worthiness of his conduct, I think that Clinton gets mitigation points for the fact that the Jones lawsuit was trumped-up political BS, owned and operated by partisan hacks. I also think he gets mitigation points for the fact that the question probably should not have been asked at the deposition. And addtional slight mitigation points for the fact that the lie (or misleading half-truth) was covering up a deeply embarassing personal foible, not potentially criminal misconduct, a matter of state, or a matter involving national security. Libby's lies are a pretty stark contrast on those fronts.

"I find it very hard to credit the notion that questions about contemporary consensual affairs are material to a claim that the defendant made unwanted sexual advances on a subordinate employee many years earlier."

First, at that point in the deposition the plaintiff can't know whether it was consensual. So the question can certainly be asked. And lying about it denies the plaintiff an opportunity to investigate it properly (to find out for himself whether or not it is material to the case. The defendant's position on materiality can't be 100% trusted).

Second, contemporary maybe-maybe-not consensual affairs with subordinates are commonly evidence of sexual contact with subordinates which can show a habit or pattern of conduct which would be both admissable and material. For example, he might have something special about cigar use which would validate testimony by the plaintiff.

First, at that point in the deposition the plaintiff can't know whether it was consensual.

If I recall the sequence of events correctly, this is false -- Jones's lawyers had heard Lewinsky's version of events, second-hand, at this point, and knew that Lewinsky was not representing her relationship with Clinton as non-consensual. Regardless of whether I've gotten the specifics mixed up or not, it's obvious that plaintiffs' lawyers could know all of the facts they were asking about -- sometimes a deposition is about finding stuff out, but just as often it's about making a witness say things you already know on the record.

Second, contemporary maybe-maybe-not consensual affairs with subordinates are commonly evidence of sexual contact with subordinates which can show a habit or pattern of conduct which would be both admissable and material.

I'd be really impressed if there were a case that used two events, separated by decades, to as evidence of that sort of pattern. 'Commonly', as applied to what specifically was going on in the Jones case, is an awful stretch.

"When you put too much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable people who have every incentive to focus massive resources onto one particular person — who gets the plaudits in the media for doing so — it's a bad thing," said Thompson, who plays a prosecuting attorney on NBC's "Law & Order."

It seems to me that this description fits Ken Starr a LOT more than Fitzgerald. Starr made sure leaks made it to the media for them to salivate over. Not one leak from Fitzgerald.

I think the judge in the Jones case had already ruled that the line of questioning was permissible (which is different from saying it's material), so the option of objecting to the question wasn't available.

That said, I think any version of events that characterizes the question as something other than legalized blackmail isn't in tune with reality. I make this statement as a lawyer and one who has personally engaged in the practice in question. One of the ways you force a lawsuit to settle is by pointing out to the other side that hey, if you force us to go through discovery, a lot of embarassing stuff is necessarily going to come out. Jones' lawyers undoubtedly thought they had a no-lose situation on their hands - either Clinton agrees to settle the case or else he has to make politically embarassing admissions under oath.

Mr. Holsclaw: What you say makes sense with regard to the question whether the questions are proper civil discovery questions -- which I acknowledge they may well be. Your second point -- the idea that a contemporary affair with an intern might establish a "pattern" that would make it more likely that Clinton did indeed harass Paula Jones -- is the much more compelling one on that score. And even if evidence of Clinton's getting blown by the unpaid help is ultimately inadmissible (which I would argue it is), discovery allows probing into matters that could lead to admissible evidence, so I'd likely lose the motion for a protective order.
However, what is "material" for the purposes of a perjury prosecution is a very different matter from what is a proper topic of civil discovery. For a false statement to be material under the perjury statute it has to be capable of influencing tribunal on an issue before it. It's a much higher standard than that required for discovery, and indeed, it's clear that it's a higher standard than relevance (the touchstone for admissibility, which is itself quite a bit higher than "discovery relevance").
Now, there is a caveat. "Materiality" in the context of a grand jury proceeding is judged by a lesser standard than "materiality" in the context of a court proceeding (i.e., an adversary proceeding before a judge such as a trial, rather than an investigatory proceeding controlled by a prosecutor). Because grand jury proceedings are investigtory in nature, a more discovery-like stnadard is applied, but it still has to be something that is capable of influencing the tribunal on the issues before it.

LizardBreath: he sense is that if a politician breaks the law out of personal corruption (say, Rep. Jefferson) or defense of his personal life, which you could call corruption if you wanted to (say, Bill Clinton), you nail them to the wall. But if a politician commits the same crimes in service of a policy goal, their motivation is public-spirited, and so it's wrong to punish them.

IMO, this is part of the continuing transition of (certain aspects of) American culture from guilt-based to shame-based. What's important is not doing the right thing, but to be seen -- or perceived -- as doing the right thing.

kid bitzer: democrats go corrupt for personal, generally pecuniary reasons. bribery, influence peddling, the occasional sex scandal. they too should pay the price, but it's all pretty small-potatoes, tawdry stuff.

Speaking broadly, I agree with this part of your statement but not the part about Republicans: plenty of Republicans, e.g. Bob Packwood, get screwed for personal reasons. I agree that there is an endemic strain of oligarchism or just plain organized crime in the Republican party but, while I think that the officials of the GOP are now complicit, I don't think they're all involved by any means.

On Clinton lying: from what I recall, the big accusation of perjury (as opposed to general mendacity) concerned his testifying that he had not had sexual relations with Lewinsky. On that particular count, he's innocent (so far as I can tell) because the prosecutor bungled the question: the definition of "sexual relations" in the question explicitly excluded oral sex. I have more extensive postings elsewhere on the site in case anyone wants to rehash this.

FWIW, I was one of those liberals who was almost offended at the thought of Clinton resigning, but that's because I apparently have a very European perception of politicians: of course they're going to cheat on their spouses. Of course they're going to lie about it. That's for their spouses, and their lovers, to judge, I'm not electing a priest; I only care about what they do for their country, not their home life.

PS: Sebastian Dangerfield, would you mind putting an extra line break between your paragraphs? I like your posts but they're a bit hard to read as is.

BTW, if you haven't already congratulated LizardBreath, get your asses over to Unfogged and do so.

Anarch: I'll try to remember to include line breaks, but I give no warranties that the results will be readable. :-)

Clinton was never going to resign nor allow himself to be prosecuted after his term was up. On the latter, why? Because of Hillary's candidacy. Because having a felon as First Lady would be too unpalatable for most people, rightfully so. I'm not saying of course that this is the only reason, but I do think this would have been a sufficient reason, even if no other reasons had been considered by the Clintons. Just another case of politicians sacrificing anything of the values of our government and the rule of law for their own personal ambition.

Ambition comes before respect for these people -- respect for our government and our institutions. I just don't know why we should indulge people who have demonstrated their values with such decisions with our votes.

Anarch: I don't exactly expect that politicians will cheat on their spouses, but I certainly agree that I don't particularly care if they do. I recall growling at some point during the late 90s that I didn't care if Clinton had sex with insects; that was between him, Hillary, Chelsea, the insects, and (if He exists) God.

Otoh, I didn't agree about resignation, so I don't think that follows from European attitudes, etc.

Now, off to Unfogged to see what's up with LB.

Establishing a pattern of quid pro quo and hostile work environment seems germane to a subordinate's claim of sexual harassment to me. The woman who performed for him was rewarded with access, job interviews, and recommendations that those who did not perform did not receive. And she ultimately went from unpaid to receiving a government paying job because of the interaction.

Also, since part of the public defense was that Paula Jones was not attractive enough to warrant attention (if I recall correctly), establishing the baseline for his affairs might be helpful for the plaintiff as well.

Now, off to Unfogged to see what's up with LB.

Nothing important or worth congratulations.

LB: liar, liar, pants on fire.

For the puzzled (especially those who come along a day or more from now), what's up with LB is this (I think).

Indeed, Liz, don't pooh-pooh your accomplishments so. That's no small thing, however small it may have appeared from your perspective.

I don't exactly expect that politicians will cheat on their spouses

I actually do -- though I'm often pleasantly surprised when they don't -- but as long as its consensual, it's not my place to judge.

Otoh, I didn't agree about resignation, so I don't think that follows from European attitudes, etc.

Given that everyone I knew in Europe was flabbergasted at the whole thing, and virtually every op-ed I read was supportive of him (or at least not antagonistic), I think the adjective is warranted, if maybe a little overbread.

I suppose I am old fashioned about this, but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife, because I think anyone who will be reckless with their families will be reckless and untrustworthy with my business. And I vote the same way, in those instances where it is known.

Why would I trust someone who cannot be trusted by his own spouse?

I think Libby got off fairly lightly. Given that blowing the cover of Brewster Jennings endangers everyone who worked with that company, and all the operations the company was involved in as a CIA front, I think it's reasonable to assume that Libby's action has increased the danger to the USA. There's no doubt that it gave aid to the enemies of the USA - the general public may not know everything that BJ was up to, but it's a fair bet that the intelligence agencies of Iran, Syria, and other hostile nations have scored a valuable intelligence coup.

That Libby may not have understood the full consequences of his actions is no defense. As a public official with Top Secret security clearance it is his duty to ensure that he does not pass harmful information to the enemies of the USA. It's not up to anyone else to babysit him in this regard: He is responsible to take care that his actions do not aid the enemies of the United States.

jrudkis: The woman who performed for him was rewarded with access, job interviews, and recommendations that those who did not perform did not receive.

She also got an MSc from the London School of Economics, and I guarantee you she was not admitted to take her Masters there and was not awarded her degree there because of who she'd had sex with in the 1990s. Which suggests to me that classing her as a bimbo who got access, job interviews, and recommendations because of who she was having sex with is fairly standard sexism. Say rather that, whatever else is true of Bill Clinton, he's attracted to smart, ambitious, capable women.

I suppose I am old fashioned about this, but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife, because I think anyone who will be reckless with their families will be reckless and untrustworthy with my business.

Given the prevalence of people who've had sex with someone other than the person they're married to, odds are if you hire attorneys and accountants on a regular basis, you have hired men who have cheated on their wives, and women - assuming you hire women - who have cheated on their husbands. And I very much doubt that you could correlate that with any recklessness or untrustworthiness in their professional lives.

It's kind of like claiming that you don't know anyone gay. (I've met straights who say I'm the first gay person they've ever met: to which my polite response is, "No, just the first person you've met whom you know is gay.") You know the military tries to claim they don't hire anyone gay, and you know how palpably false that is? Works that way for adultery, too.

jrudkis: The woman who performed for him was rewarded with access, job interviews, and recommendations that those who did not perform did not receive.

She also got an MSc from the London School of Economics, and I guarantee you she was not admitted to take her Masters there and was not awarded her degree there because of who she'd had sex with in the 1990s. Which suggests to me that classing her as a bimbo who got access, job interviews, and recommendations because of who she was having sex with is fairly standard sexism. Say rather that, whatever else is true of Bill Clinton, he's attracted to smart, ambitious, capable women.

I suppose I am old fashioned about this, but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife, because I think anyone who will be reckless with their families will be reckless and untrustworthy with my business.

Given the prevalence of people who've had sex with someone other than the person they're married to, odds are if you hire attorneys and accountants on a regular basis, you have hired men who have cheated on their wives, and women - assuming you hire women - who have cheated on their husbands. And I very much doubt that you could correlate that with any recklessness or untrustworthiness in their professional lives.

It's kind of like claiming that you don't know anyone gay. (I've met straights who say I'm the first gay person they've ever met: to which my polite response is, "No, just the first person you've met whom you know is gay.") You know the military tries to claim they don't hire anyone gay, and you know how palpably false that is? Works that way for adultery, too.

but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife

hypothetical: should you ever need the services of a cardiologist, would you first hire a P.I. to tail your potential care-giver, so as to obtain your own assessment of his moral fiber ?

not me.

jrudkis: The woman who performed for him was rewarded with access, job interviews, and recommendations that those who did not perform did not receive.

She also got an MSc from the London School of Economics, and I guarantee you she was not admitted to take her Masters there and was not awarded her degree there because of who she'd had sex with in the 1990s. Which suggests to me that classing her as a bimbo who got access, job interviews, and recommendations because of who she was having sex with is fairly standard sexism. Say rather that, whatever else is true of Bill Clinton, he's attracted to smart, ambitious, capable women.

I suppose I am old fashioned about this, but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife, because I think anyone who will be reckless with their families will be reckless and untrustworthy with my business.

Given the prevalence of people who've had sex with someone other than the person they're married to, odds are if you hire attorneys and accountants on a regular basis, you have hired men who have cheated on their wives, and women - assuming you hire women - who have cheated on their husbands. And I very much doubt that you could correlate that with any recklessness or untrustworthiness in their professional lives.

It's kind of like claiming that you don't know anyone gay. (I've met straights who say I'm the first gay person they've ever met: to which my polite response is, "No, just the first person you've met whom you know is gay.") You know the military tries to claim they don't hire anyone gay, and you know how palpably false that is? Works that way for adultery, too.

jrudkis,

How do you know that someone who is cheating on their spouse is being reckless with their family? Perhaps their spouse knows and approves. Perhaps their spouse is doing the same thing. In most cases, you will know a lot less about the family's private matters than you think you know. That strikes me as a poor basis for making decisions.

And yes, I actually do know of couples where both partners see other folks on the side. It is not my job to tell other people how to arrange their marriages.

Then again, if people being reckless with their families are unworthy for hiring, then I suppose one should not hire an alcoholic. Or drug addict. Or ex-con. No matter what. No matter how far in the past the transgression occurred. Certainly, no one should hire someone who walked off their national guard obligation.

Bugger. I have a loose network cable on this computer, and it has the oddest effects on blog posts if it works loose and I don't notice. My apologies.

"She also got an MSc from the London School of Economics, and I guarantee you she was not admitted to take her Masters there and was not awarded her degree there because of who she'd had sex with in the 1990s. Which suggests to me that classing her as a bimbo who got access, job interviews, and recommendations because of who she was having sex with is fairly standard sexism."

Do all bright women in DC get to have Vernon Jordan personally smooth the way to great jobs? No.

No one denies she is smart. But to deny that she got special treatment that wasn't available to interns who chose not to have sex with the President is being wilfully blind.

Anarch: I actually do -- though I'm often pleasantly surprised when they don't -- but as long as its consensual, it's not my place to judge.

Of course, if all the concerned parties consented, it wouldn't be cheating, would it. Not that this justifies a decidedly non-consensual public airing of dirty laundry.

I suppose I am old fashioned about this, but I would not hire an accountant or attorney that cheated on his wife, because I think anyone who will be reckless with their families will be reckless and untrustworthy with my business.

Well, that's simply untrue. There's a vast body of literature on philanderers -- as well as just my own personal observations -- and, while it's true that some are categorically untrustworthy in business, many are not. People are woefully good at compartmentalizing, especially about sex and money.

If the spouse knows and approves, it is not cheating. And no, I don't do a background check on people who I would hire, but if I knew they were liars or cheats, I would not hire them.

And now her name is a byword, and she's effectively fled the country. I don't envy her a thing.

Anarch,

That has not been my experience. The men I have known who do that are untrustworthy across the board. Plus it is simply gutless.

Every unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way, and only the two people married to each other really are in a position to judge each other.

The rest of us just don't know what goes on -- at most, we get one side's version of it.

So FDR, JFK and, er, King David (adultery AND cold blooded murder, oh my) were all 'untrustworthy' and 'gutless'?

jrudkis: The men I have known who do that are untrustworthy across the board.

And how did you find out that they were cheating on their wives? Do you run that kind of deep background check on anyone you plan hire?

And, just to keep pushing the point: is it that you think women who cheat on their husbands remain perfectly trustworthy, or that you don't ever hire women as attorneys/accountants?

Sebastian: Do all bright women in DC get to have Vernon Jordan personally smooth the way to great jobs? No.

She was an intern in the White House who worked closely with the President, Sebastian. Try not to make yourself too ridiculous with impossible comparisons. Want to try again?

"Try not to make yourself too ridiculous with impossible comparisons. Want to try again?"

Jes, you might want to tone that down a notch.

If the spouse knows and approves, it is not cheating.

Sorry, I meant that the affair was consensual -- i.e. the man (cuz it's usually a man) isn't sexually harrassing a subordinate -- not that the marriage was open.

That has not been my experience. The men I have known who do that are untrustworthy across the board.

My experience, sadly, has been the opposite. There's one stand-out exception -- as in, I'll never speak to her again after what she did to my friend, and I might actually leave a room to avoid her -- but for the rest...

Plus it is simply gutless.

Possibly, but I don't look to politicians to provide moral guidance, I'm asking him to run, or help run, a country. I genuinely don't care what a travesty, or beauty, his home life is; all I care is what legislation he passes and how he enforces the law. LBJ is sort of my canonical example here. The man was a righteous son-of-a-bitch* and I probably wouldn't even want to be in the same room as him, but his domestic agenda was IMO fantastic and so that's all that matters.

[Well, all that matters domestically. His foreign policy left a touch to be desired but that's a discussion for another time.]

Not that a politician can't be a moral guide, but I sure as hell don't get my pointers from them as a class. In fact, I don't get my moral guidance from any particular class of people; I tend to haphazardly absorb lessons from random individuals, and I don't really have a problem with that.

* This passes muster, ya?

PS: What rilkefan just said.

"She was an intern in the White House who worked closely with the President..."

She actually didn't work all the closely with the President for very long but ok, I'll play. Did all/most/many/any intern who worked in the White House other than her get to have Vernon Jordan personally smooth the way to great jobs? No.

He wasn't a reference, he practically acted as her personal talent agent.

He wasn't a reference, he practically acted as her personal talent agent.

Imagine that audition.

Rilkefan/Anarch: Jes, you might want to tone that down a notch.

Rilke, I think Sebastian was being ridiculous. If he'd wanted to pick a comparator, every intern in the White House would have been reasonable: every woman in DC clearly wasn't. As Sebastian himself seems to have tacitly acknowledged.

Sebastian: Did all/most/many/any intern who worked in the White House other than her get to have Vernon Jordan personally smooth the way to great jobs?

I have no idea. What investigation can you cite to show otherwise?

Steve | June 06, 2007 at 11:03 AM
I think Steve's idea might be right about the likely way this went down and that is why Libby lied initially. Plus, knowing (or having good reason to believe) that the journalists wouldn't cooperate, he thought he had enough cover to get away with the lies.
On the other hand, I'm not sure I buy that Libby didn't know about Plame. If he didn't, why not just say so from the beginning?
It could easily be either and we'll likely never know the truth.

What I mean is: If it was not unknown for White House interns who were intelligent, ambitious, and capable to get access, interviews, and jobs that they would not get if they were not White House interns, is there any reason to carp that Lewinsky wouldn't have got the access, interviews, and jobs she did if she hadn't fancied Bill Clinton and if Bill hadn't been a complete slut?

Any reason other than sexism, sexual jealousy, right-wing opposition to whatever Clinton did, hatred of anyone who admired Clinton, etc?

"Any reason other than sexism, sexual jealousy, right-wing opposition to whatever Clinton did, hatred of anyone who admired Clinton, etc?"

Will someone else please answer? I'm about to scream.

rdldot: On the other hand, I'm not sure I buy that Libby didn't know about Plame. If he didn't, why not just say so from the beginning?

Wouldn't that then have opened up questions about how Libby knew Plame worked the CIA? All of which would, if you trust Fitzgerald's outline of the case (and at least one juror's assessment) have led back to Cheney?

"Every unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way, and only the two people married to each other really are in a position to judge each other."

This is exactly right.

"The rest of us just don't know what goes on -- at most, we get one side's version of it."

This, on the hand, is wrong. At most we get each of the two spouse's version, that of the mother of one and the parents of the other, that of assorted friends and hangers-on, the version of their respective publicists, and then their new publicists, some quotes from their therapists, a lot of quotes from a lot of therapists who have never met them, but whose numbers reporters have, several long analyses of the couple on various talk shows by Dr. Phil, several lawyers' versions, both the spouses and randomly (see therapists, above), some further assorted versions from family, siblings, children from an earlier marriage, former spouses, and then, if we're lucky, the views of some politicians, theologians, and preachers.

Just one side's version would be a miraculous blessing.

Jes, I guess that's why I have a hard time really buying all of Steve's scenario. I suppose, since there were so many people involved in leaking this info that each one has a different, legitimate story. Maybe most of them didn't know Plame's cover. I buy that. If Libby got the info from Cheney how does that protect him anyway? Cheney didn't leak it to the press, Libby did (as far as we know). Would Cheney just giving that info to Libby be a crime? I don't know the answer but suspect not. I would assume that all the WH employees have access to this type of classified info and the problem comes from giving it to anyone that doesn't have the clearance (ie reporters).

"So FDR, JFK and, er, King David (adultery AND cold blooded murder, oh my) were all 'untrustworthy' and 'gutless'?"

Not to mention Dwight D. Eisenhower, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Rudolph Giuliani, Albert Einstein....

Um, that's not regarding the "murder" thing, no matter the temperature of the blood.

If the spouse knows and approves, it is not cheating.

jrudkis,

I'm very confused. In the real world, when one finds out their accountant is cheating on their spouse, that information typically comes from a third party who has not directly discussed the matter with either the cheater or their spouse. This is because cheaters are often unwilling to discuss their infidelity (even when their spouse knows and approves) and spouses are often unwilling to discuss their spouse's infidelity.

So, in most cases, you will find out that your accountant is seeing someone on the side but you won't find out if their spouse knows or approves. In light of that, your comment doesn't make any sense to me. Whether your accountant is actually cheating on his spouse doesn't matter nearly as much as whether you believe him to be cheating on his spouse. You probably won't have access to the information that allows you to distinguish between "accountant sleeping with someone on the side with spousal approval" and "accountant cheating on spouse".

Can you clear up my confusion?

Sorry, I lost track - the original question implied Lewinsky got a job in exchange for sex, which strikes me as silly - she surely got help getting a job because she was a political liability where she was. It's entirely useless to the claim jrudkis was attempting to support.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I buy that Libby didn't know about Plame. If he didn't, why not just say so from the beginning?

Because he had to offer SOME explanation of where he first heard about Plame. If he had simply told the truth, he would have had to testify to something like "Cheney told me, but he never mentioned that she was covert." At which point the investigation would have turned to the issue of what Cheney knew and when he knew it.

I'm deducing, like most people, that the most logical scenario involves Libby lying to protect Cheney rather than himself.

Gary,

I commend you on your 5:58.

per Steve: At which point the investigation would have turned to the issue of what Cheney knew and when he knew it. I'm deducing, like most people, that the most logical scenario involves Libby lying to protect Cheney rather than himself.


Hmmm. I guess I see where you're going with this. I was assuming that Cheney knew she was covert and told the same to Libby. But if you're right then the next step after Libby told the truth would have been to go to Cheney and see what his motive was in leaking the info. That makes more sense now, and also makes more sense in how strident Fitzgerald was when talking about the 'cloud surrounding Cheney'.

This is where the Independent Counsel law might've come in handy: Fitzgerald could've named Cheney as an Unindicted Co-conspirator. Unfortunately, as a mere Special Prosecutor, he couldn't do so: all he could do is indict.

But a co-conspirator to do WHAT?

The problem is, the underlying offense requires proof that someone among the leakers KNEW of Plame's classified status. It's not just that you can't prove Cheney knew; if you can't prove anything about Cheney, then you can't prove that ANYONE knew.

Although one strand of this thread (the Lewinsky one) has taken an a bizarre retro-90s cast, I'll join in: I don't really see the help that Lewinsky got from Bill, by way of Vernon Jordan (who quite miraculously emerged entirely unscathed from this sordid affair) as a mere quid pro quo for sexual favors. Indeed, I doubt Bill would have tapped an ace D.C. fixer for a few BJs. No, the tea leaves say that was done to shut her up and/or procure her lying affidavit. While not proved (indeed, seemingly not provable), it sure looks as if that's what actually went down, and that's a hell of lot more significant than Bill's hairsplitting/shading the truth/lying at his deposition. But it doen't work as part of the employment discrimination pattern that was posited above.

it sure looks as if that's what actually went down, and that's a hell of lot more significant than Bill's hairsplitting/shading the truth/lying at his deposition.

That's certainly what the Republicans argued in Congress during the impeachment hearings.

Steve, he couldn't prove that a crime was committed due to Libby's perjury. Without knowing where the first mention of Plame came form, it would be difficult to find out who knew about her covert status.

BTW, Gary may know this, but I believe that if one has security clearance, it is incumbent uopn them to clarify status of anyone who may be covert prior to discussing that person' employment.

Turbulence,

I suppose if I did not work with and hang out with a lot of accountants and attorneys, I would have little knowledge about their domestic agreements.

But if you asked me to recommend an attorney that I know, I would not choose one that is unfaithful.
And when you spend enough time traveling to depositions and so forth, you get to know your colleagues fairly well, especially over a few beers.


Rilkefan,

The other interns in the office that did not flash their thong and perform onesided services did not have the access or connections that she had. How is this any different from any hostile work place claim, where those performing sexual favors get professional benefits that others do not?

Gary,

Gutless in reference to intestinal fortitude to not succumb to sexual urges outside their marriage, not necessarily cowardice.

But otherwise yes. You have a committment to your spouse and family, and if you can't even be trusted within your closest circle of responsibility, why should you be trusted outside it?

Steve, he couldn't prove that a crime was committed due to Libby's perjury.

That doesn't mean you can name Cheney as an unindicted co-conspirator in regards to an unprovable conspiracy. I'm not saying it's fair.

That doesn't mean you can name Cheney as an unindicted co-conspirator in regards to an unprovable conspiracy. I'm not saying it's fair.

Given Fitzgerald's reputation as a prosecutor (he has a habit of only bringing cases to trial that he feels he can win -- very conservative, as these things go), I think you're underestimating the evidence in existance because of Fitzgerald's reticence.

Von's objections aside, the filings indicate Plame's outing fell under the IIPA -- everything but the "intent" provision is covered. So the key to any IIPA conviction would be proving intent -- that Plame was deliberatly outed, and not through a slip of the tongue, or negligence when handling classified materials, etc.

Some of Fitzgerald's evidence puts Cheney dead in the middle of things, and form a fairly detailed picture of a push-back emanating from the OVP.

It seems fairly clear that Cheney was at the center of it, and almost certainly the instigator of it -- however, proving that he intended to have her name outed requires Libby's cooperation as to conversations between the two of them when the matter first came up. If Cheney -- knowing Plame's NOC status -- told Libby to start spreading the word around that it was a junket Plame arranged, then Cheney violated the IIPA. If Libby, Rove and Armitage were never cleared for her status (or formally informed) they're in the clear. You have to know she was covert and burn her anyways.

Fitzgerald -- for what seems like very good reasons to me -- doesn't seem eager to bring charges against Cheney without Libby's full cooperation. Libby -- given his job -- would be the key witness to Cheney's state of mind, knowledge, motivations, etc.

Even with Libby's full cooperation, the case would be dicey even with the best evidence. Fitzgerald would be dealing with some really murky constitutional law -- Bush has the power to declassify information at whim (he could read the NOC list on CNN today and not be violating a single law). Does that power extend to Cheney? What if Bush approved Cheney's actions? Does it matter if Bush approved it before or after? What if Bush delegated the power to handle classification matters to Cheney in some respects?

There's no real law there, the timeframe is horribly tight, and as Fitzgerald notes -- it's really a matter for Congress because it's so murkey.

However, I feel fairly comfortable -- as I'm not a prosecutor known for keeping quiet unless I can bring a solid case -- in stating that the evidence is pretty solid that the Plame burning originated in the OVP in general, and with Cheney in particular. However, without Libby's cooperation, it's impossible to bring a solid case against Dick Cheney, even if no other issues were clouding the picture.

Jrudkis: My late mother once said that she wouldn't vote for Nelson Rockefeller in the GOP primary because he was divorced. He had broken his commitment to his wife, and so shouldn't be trusted with the country.

My late mother was born in 1909. I had assumed that kind of thinking died out with her generation.

Apparently not.

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