The Rule of Law

The House Republicans have made their case to the Senate for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The charges—the president perjured himself and obstructed justice in an effort to hide the facts of his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky—were numbingly familiar. No new revelations emerged about the extent of Clinton’s duplicity or his alleged "conspiracy" to influence the sworn testimony of Monica Lewinsky and his secretary Betty Currie. Also numbingly familiar appears to be the strictly party-line reaction to the House’s presentation and what looks to be the likely conclusion of this whole sad and bitter conflict—a party-line vote to acquit.

As we go to press, Clinton’s lawyers will begin presenting the president’s version of the facts to the Senate. This will be the first time the president’s legal representatives have a roughly equal opportunity to subject the House’s impeachment case and the Starr report to extended legal and public scrutiny. In doing so, the lawyers will undoubtedly attempt to show that Clinton did not violate the technical legal definition of perjury. Much of this argument will also be familiar—and unpersuasive. Clinton’s lawyers will also endeavor to show that the president’s leading conversations with Currie and the efforts to find Lewinsky a job outside of government fall short of any reasonable definition of "obstruction." Clinton’s legal team may have more luck refuting the...

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