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October 24, 2005

Then and Now
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 06:01 PM *

Fitzgerald may bring indictments this week — possibly against Libby, Rove, and others in the White House.

Here’s what CNN is reporting today:

Over the weekend, Republicans launched a pre-emptive strike against possible charges for perjury.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas derided any potential perjury charge as a “technicality,” and suggested Fitzgerald may be trying to show that “two years’ of investigation was not a waste of time and dollars.”

O tempora! O mores! Here’s what that same Senator Kay Hutchinson (R-TX) had to say in ‘99:

“The reason that I voted to remove him from office is because I think the overridding issue here is that truth will remain the standard for perjury and obstruction of justice in our criminal justice system and it must not be gray. It must not be muddy.”

Thanks, Bob.

Comments on Then and Now:
#1 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 06:47 PM:

IOKIYR!

I thought we all knew that!

(Clinton never committed perjury. In his mind, he was quite correct when he said he never had sex with Lewinsky. Oh, and both OJ verdicts were absolutely correct.)

#2 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 08:15 PM:

Well hey, if you liked that, you're going to love her hommage to Parson Weems

#3 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 08:50 PM:

Well, apparently Tucker Carlson has a problem with that kind of argument, because they "should have done that a long time ago" and laid the groundwork better for personal attacks on the prosecutor.

Source: ThinkProgress

ObSF, the phrase "wretched hive of scum and villainy" keeps going through my head when thinking about this gang.

#4 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 10:01 PM:

The first things that came to my mind were 'double standard' and 'hypocrisy'. After that, the GOP's 11th commandment: 'Thou shalt not speak ill of other Republicans.'

#5 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 10:04 PM:

You're welcome.

It's important to keep this in mind: that Clinton was impeached, not for anything 'substantive', but for perjury and obstruction of justice. As Hutchison said on Sunday, just 'technicalities', charges that were apparently filed only to show that the prosecutor hadn't been wasting the taxpayers' money.


#6 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 11:31 PM:

And a few more Republicans weighed in on the subject of perjury:

Sen. Frist: "There is no serious question that perjury and obstruction of justice are high crimes and misdemeanors...Indeed, our own Senate precedent establishes that perjury is a high crime and misdemeanor...The crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice are public crimes threatening the administration of justice." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. Kyl: "...there can be no doubt that perjurious, false, and misleading statements made under oath in federal court proceedings are indeed impeachable offenses...John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States, said `there is no crime more extensively pernicious to society' than perjury, precisely because it `discolors and poisons the streams of justice.'" [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. DeWine: "Obstruction of justice and perjury strike at the very heart of our system of justice...Perjury is also a very serious crime...The judiciary is designed to be a mechanism for finding the truth-so that justice can be done. Perjury perverts the judiciary, turning it into a mechanism that accepts lies-so that injustice may prevail." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. Talent: "Nobody else in a position of trust, not a CEO, not a labor union leader, not a principal of a school could do half of what the president has done and stay in office. I mean, who would have said a year ago that a president could perjure himself and obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses... and stay in office." [CNBC, "Hardball," 12/19/98]

Sen. McConnell: "I am completely and utterly perplexed by those who argue that perjury and obstruction of justice are not high crimes and misdemeanors...Perjury and obstruction hammer away at the twin pillars of our legal system: truth and justice." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. Voinovich: "As constitutional scholar Charles Cooper said, `The crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, like the crimes of treason and bribery, are quintessentially offenses against our system of government, visiting injury immediately on society itself.'" [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. Craig: "There is no question in my mind that perjury and obstruction of justice are the kind of public crimes that the Founders had in mind, and the House managers have demonstrated these crimes were committed by the president. As for the excuses being desperately sought by some to allow President Clinton to escape accountability, it seems to me that creating such loopholes would require tearing holes in the Constitution-something that cannot be justified to protect this president, or any president." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

Sen. Brownback: "Perjury and obstruction of justice are crimes against the state. Perjury goes directly against the truth-finding function of the judicial branch of government." [Congressional Record, 2/12/99]

#7 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: October 24, 2005, 11:50 PM:

Beth, thanks for those wonderful quotes. I am amazed at your patience in digging them out.

Yes, it is going to be tough for the Republicans to claim that perjury and obstruction of justice are unimportant. On the other hand... I still think it's possible that Fitzgerald is going to issue a report and indict -- NO ONE. They will all be unindicted co-conspirators.

#8 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 12:08 AM:

I can't take credit for all of that -- Tom Arthur on Table Talk compiled what a number of us dug up over the course of 2 days.

#9 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 03:46 AM:

Am I correct to believe that an impeachment is independent of any Grand Jury hearing that there might be, and, if the Grand Jury doesn't bring charges, these fine and upstanding politicians, with their deeply-held and clearly-expressed loathing for perjury, will proceed to impeach the perjurers?

Or is it too much to expect consistency of moral judgement?

#10 ::: hrc ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 09:20 AM:

Add Nicholas Kristof to your hypocrites list as his column in today's NYT so ably demonstrates. I wish someone could find his quotes back in the time of the Clinton impeachment.

#11 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 10:33 AM:

"Well, who are you gonna believe? Us, six years ago, or us right now?"

#12 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:17 AM:

Well, this is what USAToday is reporting:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-10-25-cheney-leak_x.htm

And an article in the Columbus Dispatch states: "Bush is distressed by the specter of losing Rove..." and is taking out his anger on junior staffers.

#13 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:17 AM:

jhlipton, I don't know if you're being sarcastic, but I actually agree. I've run into lots of people these days who call themselves "virgins" (especially young gay men) when they've been having oral for years. I don't know if Bill actually subscribed to that definition or not; neither do you.

And based on the evidence presented in the OJ trials (what the JURY saw, not what we all saw on TV), I would have voted the same way the juries did. Even if the same evidence had been presented identically at both trials. Because the standard of proof is different. It think the "preponderance of evidence" standard was met; that is, OJ probably did kill Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. He probably did. But there's "reasonable doubt" that he did, because of the incompetencies and shenanigans of the police. The blood evidence was complete bullshit, for example.

In any case, I didn't think Bill should have been impeached for that. That was lying about a marital peccadillo. This is lying about a serious violation of the National Security Act. But even if you take the position that perjury is perjury, all the people who voted to impeach Bill should be voting to impeach Dubya (since he helped cover it up).

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:36 AM:

I've been told that the legal, technical definition of perjury requires that the lie be about a fact material to the case, and in Clinton's case, his lies were not perjury in the technical sense. Rove and Libby, however...! I keep hoping.

#15 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:46 AM:

You're right. So the impeachment, even if he deliberately lied, was a put-up job.

#16 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:47 AM:

And an article in the Columbus Dispatch states: "Bush is distressed by the specter of losing Rove..." and is taking out his anger on junior staffers.

May his distress continue lifelong, yet be brief.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 11:59 AM:

Xopher: re OJ: obviously the jury never met leather that had been wet and dried (no tennies, I guess) or they'd not have bought the glove bit. But it was something of a smoke-and-mirror defense. (One reaction I heard of: "I'm glad he got off and I bet he never does it again".)

#18 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 12:00 PM:

Schmuck is a conman, who is less charming that Harlan when Harlan is being charming, and apparently as least as vicious and nasty, in the case of Schmuck when hearing things he doesn't want to be told/hear.... Schmuck seems to be a -very- vindictive piece of slime.... I don't remember which on-line article said that staffers play games to pick the loser who gets the unenviable job of telling Schmuck news that Schmuck doesn't want to hear.

And that piece of shit got to get hold of the office of President of the United States of America... shame on EVERYONE whose actions, collusions, greed, stupidity, gullibility, and unenlightened perceptions of self-interest put that Schmuck where he is today, instead of long ago discharged from the National Guard with a dishonorable discharge on his record.

#19 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 12:13 PM:

If I remember rightly, what Clinton said was that he did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, after "sexual relations" had been quantitatively defined as including precisely what they did get up to. So unless my facts are horribly wrong (and they may well be), he did indeed lie.

#20 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 12:39 PM:

"sexual relations" had been quantitatively defined

Quantitatively defined? It's 'sexual relations' if you do it more than n times, but not if you do it fewer?

#21 ::: Lis Carey ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 12:54 PM:

P J Evans--the glove was a minor issue. The obvoius-at-the-time weaknesses in the prosecution case in the OJ criminal trial lay the fact that a)it relied crucially on the testimony of an LAPD officer who was a racist and who was alone when he discovered crucial physical evidence (i.e., he could easily have planted it), and b)there were handling and chain-of-custody problems with the blood evidence that probably didn't but could have affected the subsequent test results.

If the jury had convicted on the case that was presented to them in that trial, they would have been wasting the taxpayers' money, because the conviction would have been thrown out.

The not-obvious-at-the-time weakness in the case was that there was additional available obtainable at the time that was strong enough that it would probably have overcome the other weaknesses, but the LAPD investigators and the prosecutors didn't obtain that evidence. The plaintiffs' attorneys in the civil case did obtain that evidence, and use it to present a much stronger case at the civil trial--where, as has already been pointed out, the burden of proof was actually somewhat lower.

Yes, both OJ verdicts were absolutely correct. This has no bearing on the utter hypocrisy of Republican pols who thought Clinton lying about his sex life was a High Crime, but Rove, Cheney, et al. lying about whether or not they intentionally outed an American undercover intelligence officer--placing not only her but all her contacts in danger and destroying the operation she was a part of--is a trivial technicality.

#22 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 01:06 PM:

I agree with Lis. Except that the blood evidence was even sillier than she said: Van Atter visited all the principle crime scenes while carrying a vial of OJ's blood in his pocket. That's not just chain of custody, that's anything from grossly negligent conduct to outright evidence tampering. The fact that the LAPD tried to frame OJ doesn't mean he wasn't guilty - in fact the cops try to frame people most often when they're sure they've got the right guy.

#23 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 01:21 PM:

Given that that albatross will be around OJ's neck for the rest of his life, I'm not goiing to argue the correctness of either verdict. He isn't getting away with anything other than no prison time.

The LAPD is still rather sloppy in their work habits, and prone to arrest people on charges they can't prove, because they want to arrest and try them for something. (They aren't the brightest group in the world either: they have to have Parker Center (hq) rebuilt due to quake damage, and refused to lease space in an empty building downtown because it was in an area which is close to skid row and they thought it was too dangerous. Somehow I don't think the dealers would stay around after the black-and-whites moved in, but the LAPD apparently does.)

#24 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 02:18 PM:

I'm not usually one for vengence, but I would like to see a political commercial that contained nothing more than video of the above quotes in '99 and today followed by two words:

Flip

Flop

#25 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 03:00 PM:

"sexual relations" had been quantitatively defined

Quantitatively defined? It's 'sexual relations' if you do it more than n times, but not if you do it fewer?

I thought the metric was "number of inches". I stand corrected.

#26 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 03:13 PM:

Sandy: Also a valid measure. Just measuring a different direction. Or something.

#27 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 06:42 PM:

Actually, the metric is number of millimeters and centimeters and liters and stuff.

Quantitatively defined would be "first base," "second base," and so on.

#28 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 07:11 PM:

Today's local NBC News says that "sources" claim that the leak originally came from Cheney. Ah, and now the national NBC News says it, too.

#29 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 07:14 PM:

If he didn't say what he wanted Libby to do with the information, Cheney is probably off the hook.

But one can hope.

We'll know for sure on Thursday, at the press conference.

* * *

So . . . think we'll invade someone tomorrow?

#30 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 07:16 PM:

If I remember rightly, what Clinton said was that he did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, after "sexual relations" had been quantitatively defined

When the impeachment hearings were ongoing, I was busy on Usenet discussing/debating them. After it was over, I compiled into an essay my analysis of the charges against him.

Nowhere did the articles of impeachment explicitly state *which* statements were considered perjurious. Instead, I had to rely on the Starr Report and Judiciary Committee Report.
Nonetheless, as far as I could tell, the perjury charges involved:

  • When the relationship started: late 1995 v. early 1996
  • The Judiciary Committee also counted as perjury the fact that Clinton claimed he was alone with Lewinsky "on certain occasions" and they had "occasional" telephone sex. They called use of the word "occasion" an intentional lie and claim 20 sexual encounters and 17 phone conversations in more than a year are greater than "occasional."
  • In his OIC testimony, Clinton said he believed that the definition of sexual relations in the Paula Jones case did not include oral sex. The Judiciary Committee thought that was a lie. During the Judiciary hearings, they played some videotape at the start of the Paula Jones trial. There was a lot of debate over the definition of sexual relations. At one point, the judge commented that "I'm not sure Mr. Clinton knows all these definitions, anyway." So the question is whether Clinton "understood" that the definition of sex included oral sex and lied about it, or whether he honestly thought the definition only meant intercourse.
  • Other issues involving the "nature and details of his relationship" fall under the question of whether he touched her and where.

#32 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 08:46 PM:

I was being not being sarcastic in regards to Clinton, nor OJ, only in "IOKIYAR".

The glove debacle points to the sloppiness of the DA (after the case-killing sloppiness of the police). Never ask a question if you don't know the answer. It doesn't matter if the jury knows about shrinkage. By allowing OJ to demonstrate that the glove didn't fit, they put it in the same pool as the rest of the suspect evidence. (Then they tried the same tactics with Robert Blake. I guess just to show they're not racist. Sheeesh.)

#33 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: October 25, 2005, 09:54 PM:

He isn't getting away with anything other than no prison time.

WADR, I take the wifebeater who killed their mom taking custody of his children a little more seriously than that.

#34 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2005, 12:13 AM:

ISTR Clinton's words were "I did not have sex with that woman."

. They called use of the word "occasion" an intentional lie and claim 20 sexual encounters and 17 phone conversations in more than a year are greater than "occasional."

That's what, approximately once a month? That sounds "occasional" to me...

#35 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2005, 05:46 PM:

PJ: I've done a lot of reading on the case.

The facts of the trial (forget the case) were such that the prosecution didn't meet it's burden of proof.

The reports from people who were in the jury room say the gloves (to pick a piece of evidence you brought up) shrank some three inches.

The coroner's report makes it clear that one of two things happened, Goldman stood and watched Brown-Simpson killed (while OJ had his back to him), and then stood there to be killed himself (when the killer was twice the distance from Goldman, as Goldman was to escape) or there was at least one other person present.

One of the films the prosecution used to show how "fit" OJ was, actually gave the opposite impression (one of his nieces, aged, roughly, nine) jumped into his arms, and his knees buckled a bit, and he grimaced, obviously in no small amount of pain).

One of the things rarely pointed out was the woman on the jury who had been a lone hold-out in a previous trial, and, a la 12 Angry Men reversed the other 11. That defendant was convicted, of murder.

There were a lot of procedural errors, on the part of the police (the blood expert, whose name now escapes me, but one of the best in the world, getting on the stand and saying the blood on the socks was dripped onto them, on purpose, did not do the prosecution any good) as well as tactical errors on the part of the prosecution.

I used to think the LAPD had framed a guilty man, now; I have reasonable doubt. What I don't doubt is whoever killed them did not act alone.

#36 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2005, 05:52 PM:

Paula: the "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" wasn't said under oath. That was in his statement to the nation.

I've read that, per either the definitions, or the understanding at the deposition, his answer in the deposition was technically accurate, which means; no matter what we think of the evasive quality of the reasoning, he can't (quite apart from questions of the material nature of the question, whic the judge later admitted she ought never have allowed) be said to have committed perjury.

TK

#37 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2005, 05:55 PM:

On the subject of Republican hypocrisy there's also Hindenraker.

1998:

"Like many others, we have been frustrated by the apparent inability of much of the American public to take the Clinton scandals seriously. "It's not about sex," we have patiently repeated to our benighted friends. "It's about perjury. It's about obstruction of justice. The sex is only incidental. At most it was the motive for the crimes. You wouldn't think murder was unimportant just because the motive for the murder was sex, would you?" So goes our argument."

And today:

Tomorrow may bring indictments of Karl Rove and Scooter Libby on charges that can charitably be described as trivial. Tonight, one of our readers urged us to link to President Bush's great speech to the Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' group rather than being distracted by the minutiae of the day. Good suggestion.

Ah, the pure character, and unswerving moral fiber of the Party which promised to bring virtue back to the White House.


#38 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: October 26, 2005, 11:01 PM:

"Well, who are you gonna believe? Us, six years ago, or us right now?"

What pattern of behavior do you want me to believe six years from now?

#39 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: October 27, 2005, 01:15 PM:

Terry -- I have always thought that the murders in the OJ Simpson case were an example of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was an article that appeared shortly after the murders that stated that Nicole had a female friend who had been staying at the house. This female friend's hair color was similar to Nicole's, and -she was using drugs and was in the habit of failing to pay for same-.

Now, my take on this is that the pusher got fed up and arranged to have his non-paying customer iced. Only his hitmen didn't have a photo, just a description, and when they arrived at the house, they took out the people that were there. Oops...

Too bad the dog can't testify.

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