President Clinton lies about his relationship with
Lewinsky in a television address

Should President Clinton Have Been Convicted?:
An Analysis of the Impeachment Charges





Perjury in the Paula Jones Depostion
(See Note Below)
RATING 1(weak) to10(strong)

Q: . . . At any time were you and Monica Lewinsky together alone in the Oval Office?
[videotape shows approximately five-second pause before answer]
WJC: I don't recall.... I typically worked some on the weekends. Sometimes they'd bring me things on the weekends. She -- it seems to me she brought things to me once or twice on the weekends. In that case, whatever time she would be in there, drop it off, exchange a few words and go....
Q: So I understand, your testimony is that it was possible, then, that you were alone with her, but you have no specific recollection of that ever happening? 

WJC: Yes, that's correct. It's possible that she, in, while she was working there, brought something to me and that at the time she brought it to me, she was the only person there. That's possible.

House Article II, which failed on a 205-229 vote.
Obvious falsehood.  It is inconceivable, given the sexual nature of their relationship as established by the semen-stained dress, that Clinton could not recall being alone with Lewinsky.  Some of the visits lasted more than an hour.  Clinton generally has a fine memory.
Testimony of Lewinsky, Currie, and six secret service agents also confirm that Clinton and Lewinsky spent time together alone.

Only a laughably tortured definition of the word "alone."  (One cannot assign private meanings to words and use an odd definition as a defense to perjury.)
It is, however, unlikely that he would have been prosecuted for perjury for this lie even though it is arguably material to the Jones litigation.

Probably not.  The lie is not an attempt to cover up an abuse of presidential power.  It is made in the context of weak civil litigation, and could be seen to be as much an attempt to protect himself and his family from the embarrassment that public knowledge of his affair with a young subordinate would cause as it was an attempt to obstruct justice in the Jones case.  The lie does, after all, concern sex--and it is human nature that people generally lie about their sexual activities.  The public in general could hardly be said to be damaged by this lie, and justice for Jones only marginally affected.

Q: Did you have an extramarital sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky?
WJC: No.
Q: If she told someone that she had a sexual affair with you beginning in November of 1995, would that be a lie?
WJC: It's certainly not the truth. It would not be the truth.
Q: I think I used the term "sexual affair." And so the record is completely clear, have you ever had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, as that term is defined in Deposition Exhibit 1, as modified by the Court?

Mr. Bennett: I object because I don't know that he can remember-
Judge Wright: Well, it's real short. He can -- I will permit the question and you may show the witness definition number one.  

WJC: I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I've never had an affair with her.

House Article II, which failed on a 205-229 vote. The term "sexual relations" was defined: "For the purposes of this deposition, a person engages in 'sexual relations' when the person knowingly engages in or causes . . . contact with the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person. . . . 'Contact' means intentional touching, either directly or through clothing."
Without question, if Clinton
fondled the bare breasts of Lewinsky, as Lewinksky later testified under oath, that would be within the definition of "sexual relations."  Overall, Lewinsky's account of being fondled is credible. It is also noteworthy that the President's lawyers showed no interest in cross-examining her in a Senate trial, as they might be expected to if they really thought she was lying. 
Oral sex--
which the semen-stained dress proves--would also be a form of sexual relations  since Clinton--even if completely  passive--would have "caused" the contact of "genitalia" (his) with "an intent to arouse the sexual desire of any person" (him).  
Lewinsky could be lying about being fondled by the President.  She submitted a false affidavit, lied to Tripp, and told Tripp she'd been lying her whole life.  She also later admitted to fabricating stories, such as her tale of having lunch with Hillary Clinton on Martha's Vineyard and  her claim to having removed all her clothes while with the President.
Questionable.  Of course, Clinton well understood that Jones's lawyers, whose client accused him of asking her to fellate him, would not have drafted a definition of "sexual relations" which failed to include oral sex.  His answer was not just misleading, but literally false.  The judge in the Jones case thought the questions were material to the suit and allowed them to be asked over the objections of the President's lawyers.  His lies probably delayed settlement of Jones's suit.
But much of what was said above is applicable again here: The lies were made in the context of weak civil litigation, and could be seen to be as much an attempt to protect himself and his family from the embarrassment that public knowledge of his affair with a young subordinate would cause as they were an attempt to obstruct justice in the Jones case.  

Q: Well, have you ever given any gifts to Monica Lewinsky?
WJC: I don't recall. Do you know what they were?
Q: A hat pin?
WJC: I don't, I don't remember. But I certainly, I could have.
Q: A book about Walt Whitman?

WJC: I give -- let me just say, I give people a lot of gifts, and when people are around I give a lot of things I have at the White House away, so I could have given her a gift, but I don't remember a specific gift.
House Article II, which failed on a 205-229 vote. Three weeks before the President's deposition, President Clinton gave Ms. Lewinsky a number of gifts, including a Rockettes blanket, a marble-like bear's head, sunglasses, and a stuffed animal wearing a T-shirt from the Black Dog.  Lewinsky produced these gifts for the OIC on July 29, 1998. The evidence also shows that the President gave Ms. Lewinsky a hat pin on February 28, 1997. The President and Ms. Lewinsky discussed the hatpin on December 28, 1997, after Ms. Lewinsky received a subpoena calling for her to produce all gifts from the President.  Lewinsky testified, "I mentioned that I had been concerned about the hat pin being on the subpoena and he said that that had sort of concerned him also and asked me if I had told anyone that he had given me this hat pin and I said no."  While an obvious lie, Clinton's denial of a recollection of giving gifts to Lewinsky is only tangentially related to Jones's lawsuit.  Giving gifts to a friend is not illegal, and not  even necessarily indicative of a sexual relationship, much  less evidence that Clinton is the type of person who sexually harrasses subordinates.  As such, the lie (assuming a  lapse of memory is implausible) could be considered immaterial, and therefore not perjurious.
Almost certainly not, especially standing alone.  The lie was only arguably material to the Jones litigation, and therefore might not be considered perjury.  As with his other lies during the Jones deposition, Clinton had multiple motives, including the understandable one of wanting to prevent disclosure to his family of his relationship with Lewinsky.
Perjury Before the Grand Jury
RATING (1-10)*

Since it was impossible to argue that the fondling of breasts was not "sexual relations" as defined in the Jones case, and the President did not want to concede that he perjured himself in the previous deposition, he claims not to recollect touching Lewinsky's breasts:
Q: The question is, if Monica Lewinsky says that while you were in the Oval Office area you touched her breasts would she be lying?
A: That is not my recollection. My recollection is that I did not have sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky and I'm staying on my former statement about that.
Q: If she says that you kissed her breasts, would she be lying?
A: I'm going to revert to my former statement....

Q: So touching, in your view then and now -- the person being deposed touching or kissing the breast of another person would fall within the definition [of sexual relations]?
A: That's correct, sir.

Article I in the Senate: "William Jefferson Clinton willfully provided perjurious, false and misleading testimony to the grand jury concerning...: (1) the nature and details of his relationship with a subordinate Government employee; (2) prior perjurious, false and misleading testimony he gave in a Federal civil rights action brought against him...
45 Senators voted to convict on this article; 55  voted to acquit.

Lewinsky's testimony about these encounters is specific. She described nine incidents of sexual activity in which the President touched and kissed her breasts. Also, many of her friends testified that  Lewinsky had told them that the President had touched her breasts and genitalia during sexual activity. These statements were made well before the President's grand jury testimony rendered these details important.  Lewinsky had no motive to lie to these individuals. 
In addition, a computer file obtained from Ms. Lewinsky's home computer contained a draft letter that explicitly refers to "watching your mouth on my breast.

Finally, the President's "hands-off" scenario -- in which he would have received oral sex on nine occasions from Ms. Lewinsky but never made direct contact with Ms. Lewinsky's breasts or genitalia -- is implausible.--Starr Report 

It cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Clinton lied when he denied touching Lewinsky's breasts.  Unlike his implicit denial of oral sex in the civil deposition, DNA evidence cannot prove fondling.  On the issue of breast fondling, it is a "he said-she said" and Lewinsky has proven her willingness to lie about the nature of  her relationship with Clinton.  (For example, claiming at one time that she took off all her clothes in the Oval Office, then denying it later.)

Questionable.  There is no question of materiality with respect to these lies before the grand jury, because they clearly are relevant to the ongoing investigation of possible crimes.  Of course, it is harder to prove that Clinton lied when he denied touching Lewinsky's breasts than when he implicitly denied having oral sex, because DNA evidence proves only that he did the latter.

Clinton denied telling his aides actual falsehoods about the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky, even though aides reported that he told them  that he did not have sex in any form--specifically including oral sex--with Lewinsky.  (Assuming that Clinton did lie to his aides, this might be--although a stretch--considered witness tampering.)
Article I states that Clinton lied to the grand jury about "his corrupt efforts to influence the testimony of witnesses"(which included Curries and Lewinsky as well as aides). 
Clinton's aides, who had no reason to lie about it, reported that he denied having sexual relations with Lewinsky.  He lied--and hoped that these aides would repeat these lies, as well as (in some cases) their attacks on the integrity of OIC.
Lies, almost certainly, but not really material.  This is not witness tampering because  Clinton never actually told  any of his aides to repeat these lies.
No.  The lies concern a matter of small legal importance. Clinton had more compelling reasons to lie to his aides than to influence their possible testimony, which would in any event have been hearsay with little probative value on the question of his perjury concerning the nature of his relationship with Lewinsky.
Improperly Influencing Witnesses
RATING (1-10)*
The day after his deposition in the Jones case, Clinton discussed his relationship with Lewinsky with his  personal secretary, Betty Currie, in the Oval Office.  According to Currie's testimony, Clinton said, among other things, "We were never really alone," "You could see and hear everything," "Monica came on to me and I never touched her, right?," and "She wanted to have sex with me and I can't do that."  These statements could easily be seen as an attempt to make sure any future testimony by Currie squared with Clinton's.  The first two statements above were plainly false.  The other statements were not really questions because Currie was in no position to answer them.
Part of Article II in the Senate: "On or about January 18 and January 20-21, 1998, William Jefferson Clinton related a false and misleading account of events relevant to a Federal civil rights action brought against him to a potential witness in that proceeding, in order to corruptly influence the testimony of that witness."  50 Senators voted to convict on this article; 50 voted to acquit. In his testimony in the Jones  case, Clinton made several references to Currie  as Lewinksy's close friend, almost inviting the lawyers for Jones to depose her.  This suggests that in his conversation with Currie the next day he was focused on preparing her to testify falsely, should she be  added to the deposition list in the Jones case.  It is also possible (but not proven) that Clinton had a second conversation along the lines of his first after he learned that the OIC was investigating his possible perjury in his Jones deposition. 
Clinton argued that in this discussion he was merely trying to refresh his recollection of the details of his affair, and that at the time he did not believe Currie would be called as a witness--or even that a grand jury investigation was under way.  Clinton had reason to expect the press would soon be hounding Currie, and he could have been focused on avoiding embarrassment more than securing false testimony.
Questionable.  Clinton probaby had dual motives for wanting Currie to lie. This might be enough to make out a case of witness tampering.  Of course, a crime is not necessarily "a high crime or misdemeanor" within the meaning of the Constitution's impeachment  provisions, and there is considerable merit to the argument that what Clinton did says little about his willingness to abuse his position as President to the detriment of the nation, the biggest concern of the framers.  People sometimes resort to drastic (even illegal) means to protect their marriages and damage to their careers.  What Clinton did  shows a lack of character, to be sure, but is it impeachable?

Clinton asked his friend, Vernon Jordan, to help find Lewinsky a job.  Just two days after Lewinsky signed her false affidavit in the Jones case on January 7, 1998, Revlon--acting on Jordan's request--offered Lewinsky a job.  This might be seen as a payback for Lewinsky's perjured testimony.
Part of Article II in the Senate:
Clinton...succeeded in an effort to secure job assistance to a witness in a Federal civil rights action brought against him in order to corruptly prevent the truthful testimony of that witness in that proceeding at a time when the truthful testimony of that witness would have been harmful to him." 50 Senators voted to convict on this charge; 50 voted to acquit.
The timing of Jordan's call to his friend at Revlon, falling so closely after the date that Lewinsky signed her false affidavit, seems suspicious. Clinton closely followed Jordan's efforts and it is interesting that Jordan referred Lewinsky to a criminal, not a civil, lawyer to help her draft her affidavit in a civil case.
Helping a friend land a job is not by itself a crime.  It is clear that Clinton asked Jordan to help Lewinsky in her job hunt well before he had any reason to suspect that his relationship with her would come to public attention. He  had a personal reason--unrelated to her testimony-- for helping Lewinsky, and that was minimizing the risk  to his marriage and his political career.
No.  This is one of the weakest allegations, since there is no way of proving that the illegal motive of influencing her testimony prevailed over the other motive of avoiding personal and political embarrassment.  Lewinsky, to Clinton, was a pest and he'd rather have her off in New York. Also, the Jones case seemed weak and it is unlikely that Clinton would be overly focused on influencing testimony that was quite tangential to the merits of the case.  Besides, Lewinsky-- even  without the President's job-hunting assistance--had no desire to tell the truth in her Jones affidavit.
Betty Currie visited Lewinsky's home and collected gifts given to her by the President, which she then stored under her bed in her own home.  It seems likely that Currie would not have taken this action without Clinton asking her to do so, and if he did--in an attempt to avoid having the gifts obtained by the Office of Independent Counsel through a subpoena--it could be seen as an attempt to hide evidence, and thus obstruct justice.
Part of Article II in the Senate:
On or about December 28, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly engaged in, encouraged, or supported a scheme to conceal evidence that had been subpoenaed in a Federal civil rights action brought against him." 50 Senators voted to convict on this charge; 50 voted to acquit.
Currie's testimony that Lewinsky initiated the gift gathering seems much less credible than Lewinsky's version.  Currie's testimony seems in many respects an effort to protect the President and--in some respects--is very hard to believe, as when she denied ever suspecting that Clinton and Lewinsky had a physical relationship.  Currie in fact admitted that it was possible that Lewinsky had a better memory about the gift gathering incident than she did.
In telling Lewinsky that her gifts could be subpoenaed, the President was merely supplying accurate legal information.  If Lewinsky, acting on this information, decided to call Currie  for help (Currie's testimony is that the call came from Monica), then Clinton committed  no crime.  Also, it seems odd that Clinton would have given gifts to Lewinsky--as he did--on the same day he asked Currie to collect them.
Questionable, but perhaps the strongest charge. There can be no question but that if Clinton in fact asked Betty Currie, a personal secretary (but an employee paid by taxpayers), to  round up gifts to Lewinsky,  this was an attempt to hide evidence--not to spin things favorably in the press.  If so, it is obstruction of justice by the President.  It is, however, obstruction of justice in a civil case--not a criminal case--and, moreover, a case that was later dismissed after settlement.
At bottom, there is the question of whether the offense is a serious breach of the trust placed in the Presidency.  Clinton's actions hardly endangered the Republic; they do, though, show a lack of respect for the law by the nation's chief law enforcer.
Clinton suborned perjury when, in a December 17, 1997 phone conversation, he asked her to say in her Jones affidavit that she was "delivering documents to me." He also suborned perjury when he suggested that she state in her affidavit that the Office of Legislative Affairs had found her Pentagon job, when in fact it had not.
Part of Article II in the Senate: "On or about December 17, 1997, William Jefferson Clinton corruptly encouraged a witness in a Federal civil rights action brought against him to execute a sworn affidavit in that proceeding that he knew to be perjurious, false and misleading." 50 Senators voted to convict on this charge; 50 voted to acquit.
"Delivering documents" was usually a story to cover their relationship, and  only rarely the real reason for Lewinsky's visit to the Oval Office.  The Pentagon job was arranged  through Clinton's aides in the West Wing, not the Office of Legislative Affairs.  Clinton knew this.  Asking someone to lie in an  affidavit is a serious matter, arguably worse than lying yourself because you expose another person to the risk of prison.
In her Senate testimony, Lewinsky stated that she did not understand that Clinton was asking her to use the "delivering documents" cover story in connection with the affidavit. 
Questionable.  The second charge relating to the Pentagon job is the more solid.
Note on Impeachable Offenses
The Constitution says that a President may be impeached for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" (Art II, Section 4).  The two specified crimes (treason and bribery) both relate to acts of  a President that constitute a serious abuse of his official power.  Some people have drawn from this the conclusion that illegal acts of a President that do not relate to his office are not impeachable offenses (but could instead be the basis for a prosecution after he leaves office).  Yet the matter cannot be so clear.  Hardly anyone, for example, believes that if a President were determined to have committed murder or rape a year before taking office, this would not be a sufficient basis for impeachment.  Also, it should be noted, some actions that are not crimes at all, such as being in a constant state of drunkenness or abandoning Washington for a six-month vacation in Aruba, are undoubtedly appropriate reasons to impeach.

In the case of William Clinton, we had a President who lied repeatedly under oath, suborned perjury, and hid evidence.  His lies, while about sex, continued after they were necessary to save his marriage or avoid extreme embarrassment.  He lied to the grand jury when his basis for doing so was to avoid admitting earlier acts of perjury.  There is no question but that the President's actions were not those we would like to see from the nation's chief enforcer of federal law.

Formalists in Congress and elsewhere argued that "no man is above the law."  Clinton committed felonies and they must be punished.  The fact that the prosecutor might have employed a sting operation or had a too cozy relationship with various Clinton-haters should not be a mitigating factor.  Finally, these formalists believed, the consequences of removal of the President for the nation's politics and economy were largely irrelevant.

Polls taken during the impeachment proceedings, however, made clear that the American public took a less formalistic view.  In the words of Judge Richard Posner, the public "is prepared to allow that the President may be a little above the law, that felonies can be excused when they seem the harmless consequence of human weaknesses that never should have been a subject of legal proceedings, that prosecutorial excess can mitigate a defendant's guilt, and that pragmatic considerations should bear heavily on the decision to force a President from office."

In the end, there is no clear answer to the question of whether William Jefferson Clinton committed an impeachable offense. 
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